Dustin McGowan emerged as one of the AL's most promising young pitchers by winning 14 games with a 3.62 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 32 starts from mid-2007 to mid-2008, but began struggling following a 125-pitch outing last June and had season-ending shoulder surgery a month later. His recovery has gone poorly and general manager J.P. Ricciardi hinted Wednesday that his career is in jeopardy.
"He's not where he should be from a rehab standpoint," Ricciardi noted. "I don't know if he's never going to throw again, but right now he's struggling." Toronto's pitching staff has been wrecked by all kinds of injuries during the past two years, but losing a young right-hander with a mid-90s fastball who missed plenty of bats and induced quite a few ground balls is perhaps the biggest long-term blow.
While the Blue Jays somehow become the fifth MLB team to win 40 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Injuring his elbow in the World Baseball Classic didn't stop Matt Lindstrom from averaging the usual 96 miles per hour with his fastball, but he hasn't looked right since. Last season Lindstrom allowed 21 runs and 26 walks in 57.1 innings. This year he gave up 22 runs and 20 walks in just 29 innings before the Marlins stuck him on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained right elbow.
Florida worked Lindstrom awfully hard despite the WBC scare, using him in both games of a doubleheader last month and on three straight days twice in the past four weeks. Now he's been shut down for at least a month and most likely will be sidelined well into August. Leo Nunez is the obvious choice to replace him in the ninth inning, assuming that his current ankle injury doesn't linger for very long.
* Edinson Volquez had been making steady progress in his recovery from elbow tendinitis, but has been shut down after an MRI exam showed inflammation. He'll be examined again next week, but now seems highly unlikely to return before the All-Star break. With his recovery timetable being delayed the Reds now have an excuse to give Homer Bailey an extended rotation tryout beginning Saturday.
Bailey was a mess in past stints with the Reds and his prospect stock is nowhere near where it once was, but he's still just 23 years old and is 5-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 40/10 K/BB ratio in six starts since his latest demotion to Triple-A. This is his third go-around at Triple-A and he's made 45 starts there, so it may be time to let him sink or swim while praying that he throws strikes for once.
* There's no official diagnosis yet on Brandon Webb's injured shoulder following two MRI exams and he's expected to seek a second opinion later this week, but the Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that "surgery appears to be a strong possibility" while specifically speculating that he may have a torn labrum. If that's indeed the case, Webb is done for 2009 and perhaps most of 2010.
Note: As the first half comes to a close, we're now offering a "Midseason Report" that includes all the outstanding content from our "Season Pass" product plus a ton of new articles, rankings, and projections tailored for the second half.
AL Quick Hits: Evan Longoria left Wednesday's game with a strained hamstring and missed time earlier this month with the same injury … CC Sabathia (biceps) declared himself "good to go" following a bullpen session Wednesday … Neftali Feliz has moved to the bullpen at Triple-A in preparation for a second-half role in Texas … Oakland placed Josh Outman (elbow) on the shelf Thursday, calling up Gio Gonzalez to replace him in the rotation … Denard Span (ear) is set to come off the disabled list Thursday … Jason Varitek has been slumping this month, so manager Terry Francona explained Wednesday that he's been dealing with neck stiffness … Koji Uehera said Wednesday that he's in danger of missing his next start because of elbow soreness … David Ortiz homered again Wednesday and is 18-for-55 (.327) with six homers this month … Orlando Hernandez began his comeback by tossing a scoreless inning out of the bullpen Tuesday at Triple-A.
NL Quick Hits: Oliver Perez (knee) estimated Wednesday that he needs a couple more minor-league rehab starts before rejoining the Mets … Manny Parra tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his second Triple-A outing Tuesday, striking out Manny Ramirez … Brad Lidge (knee) will return from the disabled list Thursday, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. … Gary Sheffield was out of the lineup for a third straight game Wednesday after getting a cortisone shot for his injured knee … Seth McClung has been tabbed to replace Dave Bush (biceps) in the rotation and may have some short-term value in NL-only leagues … Kenshin Kawakami exited Wednesday's start after taking a Joba Chamberlain liner off the side of his neck … General manager Neal Huntington said Wednesday that Ian Snell will remain in the rotation for at least one more start … David Wright stole his 19th base Wednesday while going 4-for-4 with three runs.