I first met Michael Bowden during my first trip ever to a professional ball clubhouse in 2009 on a trip to RI to visit family. He grew up in the Chicago area rooting for the Cubs and made his major league debut in 2008 pitching against the White Sox, and a solid one it was- he went 5 innings, allowing 7 hits and 2 runs, earning him a victory in his first Major League start, as well as his first Major League appearance. It's been an up and down roller coaster ride for him, as it it for many minor leaguers on the cusp of reaching the big show permanently- witness Clay Buchholz.
I caught up with him briefly again in Pawtucket last month and had a brief chat with him. He was eager to make a transition from starter to reliever. These decisions, whether one makes them himself, or if it is made for him by others, can be tough to digest at times, but it appears that Bowden is locked and loaded for the big leagues. He spoke eagerly of making appearances more often rather than once every 5 games. Papelbon's transition from starter to closer was recalled during our discussion. Barring any 11th hour blockbuster trades, which I presume is the reason he hasn't been called back up yet, I would expect to see him wearing a 'B' on his cap rather than a 'P' any day soon.
His recent statistics in Pawtucket have his back. Even if you include his subpar game on Wednesday when he allowed 2 runs in 1 inning, he still has 'Major League' written all over him. His last game as a starter was July 2nd, when he got word that he would be needed as a reliever in Boston. In his 3 appearances in Boston in July, he pitched a total of 2.1 innings, allowing 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2 and not allowing any runs. My guess is that Theo wanted to get a couple of innings in for him to get any jitters he may have had upon returning to the big leagues for good. Whether he has the composure to be a top notch closer remains to be seen, but his numbers look good for middle and situational relief, and on occasion, a spot set up man should Bard and Papelbon get overworked as they did on their most recent west coast tour.
In his last 10 games with Pawtucket, which include 4 starts, he has pitched 36.1 innings, won 5, lost 0, allowed 20 hits and 6 runs, while striking out 25. His ERA over those 10 games in Pawtucket is 1.49, and his opponents have only batted .159 against him.
Let's hope Michael Bowden is Theo's ace up his sleeve.
Separated at birth from Brad Pitt?