"By that fourth day I felt like I could throw again and by game day I'm fine," he said of a typical recovery period following a 95-pitch game. "At that slow pace, if I keep going at that rate, I might not be ready to go on that fifth day. It took a lot out of me. Now I have to save some to keep going and prolong my career."
Gibbons had said several times this season that he prefers McGowan in a relief role, and he now has his wish. He said the move is best for McGowan's career and for the team.
"I think it makes us stronger," he said. "He doesn't have to worry about conserving anything. I think it will prolong his career. I don't know how many total innings he threw last year, but he's gotta be close to that this year. And I think it would be a shame for him to get hurt out there and his career is over. That's part of my thinking. I think he can be a top-notch reliever for a few more years."
McGowan was due to make his next start Tuesday. Gibbons said no decision has been made regarding who will get that start, but indicated that Todd Redmond and Marcus Stroman will be considered for the role.
Gibbons said that although Stroman has been pitching out of the bullpen since he was called up to the team in early May, he's not that far removed from the starting role. He pitched in the Triple-A Buffalo rotation to start the season.
"He's been starting in Buffalo, so he's been using the four or five pitches he's got," said Gibbons. "In the bullpen [he's still been using most of his pitches]. It's a little different approach there. As a starter you've got innings to work with, as reliever, you just come in and try to get out after out."
Asked whether Stroman could give the team five innings an outing, Gibbons replied, "I don't see why not."
Stroman is 1-0 and has allowed nine earned runs in 6 2/3 innings since being called up to Toronto.
Redmond, meanwhile, is 0-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 11 appearances in a long relief role this season. In his most recent outing, the 28-year-old right hander pitched a season-high 4 2/3 innings against the Angels on Saturday.
He's made 15 career starts, 14 of those coming last season. He was 4-2 as a starter in 2013.