Michael Bowden had a 0.86 ERA after a sparkling effort against Buffalo on May 17. His eight shutout innings, in fact, marked the fourth occasion on which he'd taken the ball and given up zero earned runs in his outing. He had better numbers than Clay Buchholz. He even earned himself a cameo appearance at Fenway Park in which he threw two hitless innings against the Yankees.
Since May 17, though, it's all gone downhill.
Bowden allowed four earned runs in two innings on May 23, laboring threw 58 pitches and leaving the ball up in the zone. His ERA after that game: 1.64.
Bowden bounced back at Louisville on May 26, allowing just one earned run in 4 1/3 innings in an outing that would have been worse had reliever Billy Traber not pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning. His ERA after that game: 1.68.
And on Tuesday night at home against Louisville, Bowden was tagged for six earned runs in four innings in a 6-0 loss. (He'd allowed nine earned runs in his first nine starts before Tuesday.) He allowed a home run and a two-run double in the first inning and a two-run home run in the third inning. His ERA after that game: 2.58.
There's no reason to panic. Bowden remains one of the top prospects in the organization. But these last few starts remind us that he's not quite a Buchholz-esque ace-in-the-making. He's more of a middle-of-the-rotation starter who's going to be prone to these sorts of hiccups.
And as long as he can bounce back, facing this type of adversity in Triple-A might even be good for him in the long run.