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Kyle McGowin slides into high-leverage outings for Washington Nationals

Armed with go-to pitch, Long Island native could see more time in the bullpen.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

WASHINGTON - Kyle McGowin has made 126 starts in the minor leagues and two in the major leagues with the Nationals.

But if he keeps pitching as he has of late – armed with a slider he can throw more often – the native of Long Island could be a fixture in the bullpen in the future for Washington.

In four outings as a reliever this month, McGowin, 28, has allowed just one hit and no runs in 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts and two walks.

On Saturday, he pitched two scoreless innings and 23 of his 30 pitches were strikes – and the vast majority were sliders as right-handed batters of the Atlanta Braves swung helplessly at his wipeout slider. He has a WHIP of 0.53 and opposing batters have an average of .059 against him this year.

“Very pleased with his initial outings out of the bullpen,” pitching coach Paul Menhart wrote to Federal Baseball on Sunday.

“The transition from starter to reliever takes some getting used to. He’s definitely going to get some more opportunities to show us who he is.”

Brad Holman, the pitching coordinator in player development, recently told Federal Baseball that throwing out of the bullpen allows McGowin to throw the slider more often.

Last season, McGowin made 11 starts for Triple-A Fresno in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and six with the Harrisburg Senators in the Double-A Eastern League.

Overall he was 8-3, 3.39 in the 17 starts. McGowin pitched in seven games, with one start, for the Nationals last year and posted an ERA of 10.13 under manager Dave Martinez.

“He is awesome,” McGowin said in an interview about pitching for Martinez. “It’s a nice, relaxing environment. He doesn’t put a lot of pressure on you, so it is easy to do your job.”

The Savannah State product was drafted by the Angels in the fifth round in 2013. McGowin was traded to the Nationals in December 2016 along with right-hander Austin Adams for second baseman Danny Espinosa.

McGowin broke into the majors in 2018 with Washington and in his career, he has pitched in 16 games, with two starts, in the big leagues.