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Las Vegas 51s’ Kevin McGowan earns shot with New York Mets

Updated August 23, 2017 - 5:51 pm

Kevin McGowan was a big leaguer for less than a week.

He suited up in his Mets uniform, stepped foot on his first, second and third major league diamond, was chirped at by Yankees fans for his long hair, soaked in the atmosphere and spent part of a week in New York with his best friend and his family.

The one thing he didn’t do was pitch in a game.

“It was like a dream and I woke up back in Vegas pretty quickly,” McGowan said Monday of his first trip to the majors.

He didn’t have to wait much longer to be called up once again.

After being optioned on Aug. 17, McGowan, 25, was called up again on Tuesday.

This time around, though, he made his debut, throwing 1 1/3 innings on Tuesday at Citi Field. He gave up a run on two hits in the Mets’ loss to Arizona.

“I still don’t know how to describe the feeling,” McGowan told reporters after the game. “It’s something obviously I’ve worked for my whole life and it’s definitely a special feeling. I really just, I don’t know what to say. It felt nice getting out there.”

The promotions come after spending the season as one of the most consistent arms out of the 51s bullpen this season.

McGowan was 5-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 62 innings with the 51s this season. He also had four saves, taking over as closer for a period of time before his call up.

A season before, he went 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 84 1/3 innings, with a majority of them coming in Double-A Binghamton.

McGowan thought he might have a chance to crack the majors that year as a September call up when rosters expand. Under different circumstances he might have, but the Mets were battling for a wild card spot in the playoffs and he had to wait until this year for his debut.

Throughout this season — his first in Triple-A — 51s pitching coach Frank Viola said he’s seen more consistency from McGowan in the strike zone and more confidence in his three-pitch selection.

“When you have three pitches as a reliever and are not afraid to throw them at any time, that’s very advantageous and that’s what he’s done. He’s gone out here and he’s established the strike zone,” Viola said. “There are times that he still falls behind in the count and stuff like that but overall … I think he’s done a terrific job as far as figuring himself out and going out here and challenging and competing.”

Viola also said McGowan has “figured out he’s got to work down in the zone,” which has made his high fastball effective.

“The few times he has gotten hit this year it has been because he’s been up in the zone, but he’s made quick adjustments, he’s made good adjustments, smart adjustments and heck, he got himself put on the map,” Viola said. “It’s a terrific story. He went from a non-roster guy in spring training to getting an opportunity in the big leagues.”

The right-hander was drafted out of Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire in the 13th round of the 2013 draft by the Mets and steadily worked his way through the system.

Now, he’ll get his chance to prove himself at the highest level.

“The whole thing it still never really sunk in,” McGowan said of his first call up. “I never felt like I didn’t belong there. I always knew I could play at that level. Not to sound arrogant I just always believed in myself that I could do it. And just stepping on the field … was so surreal. I was like ‘This can’t be real.’”

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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