Fact OR Fiction v2.0

Welcome to another installment of Fact OR Fiction here at InsideTheDome. In this segment we field certain statements from fans to be answered by our Blue Jays expert Lee Ferguson. He will debate on the topic and provide you with reasonable evidence that answers the question - Fact or Fiction? In this week's edition Lee analyzes whether or not Josh Towers will be replaced in the rotation by the end of the season

FACT OR FICTION:

Josh Towers will be replaced in the rotation by the end of the season.

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend, both North and South of the border! With a new month of baseball underway, questions begin to arise about certain players' futures and roles are more clearly defined. We here at ITD thought it was time to take a look at the energetic fifth starter of the Toronto Blue Jays – Josh Towers.

Towers, a twenty-eight year old residing from Hueneme, California, was a 15th Round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in the 1996 Amateur Draft. Many doubts were bestowed upon Josh the moment he was drafted. If you met Josh Towers outside of a baseball stadium, you would be hard-pressed to believe he was a professional baseball player. He comes off as a regular person like you or I. Perhaps that's what sets him apart?

His journey began in 1996 with the Rookie League Bluefield Orioles. Towers struggled in his first taste of pro ball, owning a 5.24 ERA, but began to adjust and starting making his rise thru the organization. He didn't possess a blazing fastball or a five pitch arsenal, but what he did have was control; the ability to pitch both sides of the plate, keeping his pitches down and out of the apposing batter's ‘hot-zones'.

A year after Josh's minor league debut, he ran off a streak of five straight seasons with an ERA under four. It was time to see what he was made of. The Baltimore Orioles called Towers up to the majors and made his major league debut out of the pen on May 2nd 2001 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Towers would spin one and one-third innings, allowing only one hit. Josh would continue to sizzle, being moved into the rotation, winning six of his first seven starts, being named Rookie of the Month in June of '01. Josh would struggle later on in the season, dropping eight of his last 10 decisions to end the season.

In his second tour of duty with the Orioles, things began to unravel for the young right-hander, posting 0-3 record with a 7.90 ERA. He didn't fare much better in Triple-A, registering a 7.59 ERA, giving up 109 hits in only 69 innings pitched. The Orioles had given up on Josh Towers.

Enter the Blue Jays, where Josh Towers would find his new home. Toronto was a team in need of pitching depth and Towers needed a change of scenery, signing former Oriole to a minor-league contract.

Josh would bounce back and forth from Triple-A Syracuse and Toronto during the early parts of 2003, but would be up to stay for the remainder of the season when he was called up to take the rotation spot of Cory Lidle on August 8th. Towers would impress everyone finishing with an 8-1 record and a respectable 4.48 ERA.

Josh's strong finish earned him a spot on the 2004 roster but made only two starts in April before being sent to Triple-A. Josh would pitch his way back into the Blue Jays plans by going 3-1 in five starts with a 2.50 ERA. He would be recalled on June 1st to replace the injured Justin Miller and would hold that spot for the remainder of the season, recording a 9-9 record with a 5.11 ERA.

Fast forward a bit to 2005 where Josh Towers remains in the starting rotation as the number five starter. Towers got off to a pretty good start this season leading to a 5-1 record and a 3.17 ERA after eight starts, but would struggle after that losing six straight decisions. His record on the season now stands at 6-7 with a 4.33 ERA.

How much longer can it last? Towers has survived a few changes of the rotation thus far, seeing chances given to David Bush, Chad Gaudin and most recently, Pete Walker. Granted, Josh has pitched well overall this season but for much of his career, he's liable to being a very streaky pitcher. With a lot of prospects beginning to bang on the door, how long can it be before he's replaced in the rotation?

At some point, it will be inevitable that Toronto's well-stocked system of pitchers will show up in the big show and force Towers out. In recent memory, only Roy Halladay and Gustavo Chacin have been called up to secure a spot in the rotation. So where does that leave Towers?

Well, here's what we know; Pete Walker's stint in the rotation is over, as the veteran right-hander has recently returned to the pen. David Bush and Chad Gaudin have been pitching very well in Syracuse and one of them will be returning after the all-star break. Both Bush and Gaudin deserve to be back in Toronto, but will it be at the cost of Towers?

Josh has had a good run in his time in Toronto and I foresee the combination of Bush and Gaudin pushing Towers into the bullpen or even back into Triple-A which could spell the end of his tenure with the Jays. He will probably survive until the rosters expand on September 1st, where Bush, Gaudin, Shawn Marcum and Francisco Rosario will be given a chance to showcase their talents on the pitching mound. With so many young and talented arms ready to set Toronto on fire, the only outcome for the statement above is – FACT!

Tune in next week as we take a look Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cat, Dustin McGowan!

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