On Tuesday night, the New York Mets called on Kevin McGowan to make his major league debut in relief of Tommy Milone. McGowan was called up on August 13, but went back down to Triple-A Las Vegas four days later. He was called up again when Steven Matz went on the disabled list.
In his first relief appearance with the Mets, the 25-year-old went 1.1 innings, gave up one run on two hits, walked two, and struck out one on 38 pitches (19 strikes). While his first batter, Paul Goldschmidt, got a RBI-double against him, he was able to rebound until he walked the pitcher in the seventh.
While with the Las Vegas 51’s, he made 44 appearances, going 5-4 with a 4.06 ERA, with 55 strikeouts and 24 walks in 62 innings. He also had some save chances, but went 4-for-8 with those opportunities.
Back in 2013, the Mets drafted McGowan in the 13th round of the MLB Draft out of Franklin Pierce University. After three years in the Mets farm system, New York brought him to spring training as a non-roster invitee.
When John did his rankings of the top 20 prospects in the Mets farm system, McGowan did not make the list, but he was one of the prospects who received a C+ grade. Considering the Pacific Coast League is hitter friendly, those aren’t bad numbers.
As far as McGowan’s pitch arsenal goes, he has a fastball that usually is around 90- 93 miles-per-hour to go with a slider and a changeup. Here is what Matthew Cerrone of SNY had to say about his offspeed pitches a little over a week ago
“I'm told his slider is the best it has been, but it's still below average and in need of improvement. It's good enough to use when mixed with his change up, though. That said, his bread and butter is getting controlling at bats, painting the corners and getting weak contact from the opposition.”
It is very tough to have great numbers as a pitcher in Vegas. He averages about eight strikeouts per nine innings, so he can get swings and misses. But, according to Fangraphs, the line drive rate is up from 19% at Double-A Binghamton last year to 26% this year.
Over the last couple of months, the Mets have added relief pitching into their organization when they dealt away Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Curtis Granderson. While some might criticize the little return they received in terms of top prospects, the Mets are trying to win in 2018 and are looking to fill out the rest of the bullpen.
Outside of Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, and Jerry Blevins (in all likelihood), the Mets will need to fix the bullpen this winter in order to help their starting pitchers. If McGowin can pitch well down the stretch, he puts himself into the conversation for next year.
Now, Hansel Robles prevented McGowan’s outing from being much worse when he got out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh Tuesday. But, at the same time, he fared well against one of the best lineups in baseball. That should be a good sign going forward.