Kyle McGowin was not happy he was pulled from his start for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs after five scoreless innings on Monday night in which he allowed just one hit.
There was a good reason to end his night there, however, as he found out after the game was over and his manager called him into his office.
“It was the fifth inning and they took me out and i was pretty upset,” McGowin said, “... so in my mind — a couple guys came up to me and they were, ‘Oh, you’re going to the show.’ You don’t want to take their word for it until you’re told, but after the game a couple guys were all sitting there packing up, and [Chiefs’ manager] Randy [Knorr] called me and sat me down and told me I was driving home, but not to NY, but to D.C., so I was pretty excited.”
He played a similar trick on his mother when he called to share the big news.
“I messed with my mom first,” he explained when asked who he told once he learned he was getting the call.
“I said, ‘What’s the quickest route home?’” McGowin recounted. “And then I called her and told her I had no service, so she started telling me, and I said, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter cause I’m going to D.C.’ And she broke down hysterically, and my father was there, and then I called my college coach, a couple friends and my agent and everybody.”
McGowin, 26, was acquired by the Washington Nationals in a December 2016 trade with the Los Angeles Angels who’d selected the right-hander in the 5th Round of the 2013 Draft.
He was at the end of a breakout campaign in the Nats’ system this season when he learned he’d be joining the big league club, having posted a with a 3.69 ERA and a 2.97 FIP, 19 walks (2.19 BB/9), and 94 Ks (10.85 K/9) in 13 starts and 78 innings pitched at Double-A Harrisburg, and a 1.20 ERA and 2.92 FIP, nine free passes (1.54 BB/9), and 44 Ks (7.52 K/9) in eight starts and 52 2⁄3 IP at Triple-A Syracuse after the five scoreless innings on Monday night.
In an interview this week with 27East.com’s Drew Budd, McGowin said a different mindset this season led to a turnaround for him after he’d struggled in 2017, putting up a combined 5.95 ERA in 19 starts and 98 1⁄3 IP for the High-A Potomac Nationals, Double-A Senators, and the Chiefs.
“It’s not like I developed a new pitch. My mind was finally in the right place, everything was clicking. I’ve been working with the pitching coach, and working with a different mindset did wonders for me.”
”My mental game is night and day difference from last year,” McGowin added on Tuesday in the nation’s capital.
“I was dwelling on the negatives last year and this year I took the negatives and I turned them into positives. And then my training this year was a lot different. I went and trained with a couple facilities, and I’d say that turned out and did wonders for me.”
McGowin made his MLB debut on Wednesday night, popping up Harrison Bader with a 1-1 fastball (92.3 MPH) to get his first out in the majors, but left a 3-1 slider up over the middle of the plate to Yairo Munoz in the next at bat and gave up a solo home run. Two quick outs followed in what ended up a 16-pitch, nine strike appearances out of the bullpen.
“He threw fine,” Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up a 7-6 loss.
“He just couldn’t grip his slider,” Martinez said, “... and that was tough for him. He came out and said, “I couldn’t find my slider, I couldn’t grip the ball, and that happens, so I told him, I said, ‘Hey, you did fine, just be ready to go again.’”