Blue Jays remove McGowan from rotation

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Dustin McGowan. Keith Srakocic/AP

Dustin McGowan is headed back to the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen. Manager John Gibbons told reporters before the game that McGowan will pitch in relief after opening the season in Toronto’s starting rotation.

“I think it makes us stronger,” Gibbons told reporters.

The Blue Jays have not yet named a replacement for McGowan, who started Wednesday’s 15-4 loss against the Cleveland Indians. The Blue Jays will have to decide on a replacement by Tuesday, when the Blue Jays open a series against the Red Sox in Boston.

The Blue Jays could rely on a spot starter such as Todd Redmond, or promote a pitching prospect from the minor leagues. While Marcus Stroman would have been the leading candidate to start for Toronto, he has been pitching out of the bullpen, complicating a potential transition back to a starting role.

McGowan started eight games for the Blue Jays this year, posting a 5.08 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 17 walks allowed in 39 innings. The 32-year-old had trouble pitching deep into games, reaching the five inning mark in just four of his eight outings. McGowan tried pitching with an insulin pump to help with his endurance.

While McGowan’s stint in the starting rotation didn’t last long, he could still be an effective reliever. The right-hander pitched in 25 games out of the bullpen in 2013, posting a 2.45 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 12 walks in 25.2 innings. Toronto’s bullpen has faltered this year, and adding McGowan to the mix could help stabilize the late innings.

The triple-A Buffalo Bisons announced Thursday that starter Sean Nolin has been placed on the disabled list with a left groin strain. The left-hander has a 2.70 ERA this year but won’t be in the mix for a promotion to Toronto given the injury.

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