Kyle McGowin hadn’t pitched in a major league game since August 19, 2019 before he took the mound in the bottom of the fourth inning last night, replacing Nationals’ starter Erick Fedde after the right-hander gave up a leadoff home run and one and two-out walks in the inning.
McGowin threw five sliders to Marcell Ozuna, all out of the zone, and the Braves’ slugger chased and K’d swinging to end the inning.
Washington’s skipper, Davey Martinez, liked what he saw from the 28-year-old reliever, so he sent McGowin back out for the fifth, and the right-hander struck out two in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame, and a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth followed.
After retiring the first seven batters he faced, McGowin issued a leadoff walk in the seventh before he was done with a 36-pitch, 23-strike outing.
McGowin ended up earning his first win in the majors in the 10-4 game.
“Good things happen when you throw strikes,” Martinez said after the curly-W.
“McGowin came in, threw strikes, pounded the strike zone, and he got big outs for us. We needed that.”
He’s always thrown the slider, but McGowin threw it for 29 of 36 pitches last night, and he got nine swinging and eight called strikes with the pitch.
“We wanted him to throw more sliders, it’s really good, really effective, he throws two speeds, one slower than the other, one hard,” Martinez said. “But we also changed his fastball, he was a sinker guy, we wanted him to start throwing four-seams elevated.
“He threw a couple tonight, which was kind of nice, threw a couple in, which was kind of nice, so I think that helped him out and and you saw tonight what he can do when he’s throwing strikes.”
“In Spring Training they called me in and told me about my slider, they love it a lot, so they wanted me to focus on using that as a weapon, more so than in the past,” McGowin said in his own post game Zoom call.
They also wanted him to work in relief, after he started the majority of time in the minors.
“I dedicated the whole time in Fredericksburg learning how to pitch with that pitch all the time, and pitch often with it,” McGowin said of the slider.
“If he can continue to throw strikes, like he did tonight,” Martinez said, “he could earn that long-relief [role], because we need one. He could step in there.
“And also the way that righties saw him tonight, and they were pretty good hitters, we may be able to put him in a spot with just right-handed hitters and see where that takes us as well.”
McGowin said he has no issue with leaning on his slider like he did in his return to the big leagues.
“It’s my comfort zone. My slider is my favorite pitch, I never have a problem not throwing it. The more they want me to throw it the happier I’m going to be, honestly.”
Asked what he has to do to keep it up and repeat what he did last night, McGowin said it was simple.
“Keep going out and throwing up zeroes and giving the team whatever they need.”