If the Baltimore Orioles have any hopes of contending in 2014, they will need their starting rotation to step up their game from last year, and one pitcher certainly has the ability to do so.
Before we talk about today, let’s take a step back in time. The Orioles drafted Kevin Gausman fourth overall in the 2012 draft, behind Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Mike Zunino, with Zunino the only other player besides Gausman in the top 15 picks to play in the majors so far. Buxton and Correa have been making headlines in the minors and should be in the bigs soon enough.
Gausman has moved up the minor league ranks rather quickly. During the 2012 season, he spent time in Single A ball between Aberdeen and Frederick, where he went a combined 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five starts. During his 15 innings pitched, he struck out 13 and walked only one. In 2013, Gausman spent time with AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk, where he went a combined 3-6 with a 3.51 ERA. Gausman displayed excellent control once again as he struck out 82 batters in 82 innings while walking only 14.
Gausman did spend a significant amount of time with the O’s last year as well, pitching 47.2 innings in which he struck out 49 batters and walked 13. His record of 3-5 and ERA of 5.66 were not really impressive, but he did seem to pitch better coming out of the bullpen. During the first half of the season, Gausman posted an ERA of 6.21 with a WHIP of 1.47, but after the All Star break he seemed to get in a groove, posting an ERA of 4.40 with an impressive WHIP of 1.04. Also, during the second half, he struck out 23 batters in 14 1/3 innings pitched while walking only four. Overall, as a starter, Gausman posted an ERA of 7.66 and a WHIP of 1.62 with 20 strike-outs in 24 2/3 innings played. As a reliever, he posted an ERA of 3.52 to go along with his 1.04 WHIP and his 29 strike-outs in 23 innings.
Gausman did start to improve as a reliever, but the plan is to make him a starter. With Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez holding down the top four spots as of now, the fifth spot is Gausman’s to lose, but he will need to fend off Zach Britton and anyone else looking to get in the rotation. Considering that his fastball can hit 99 miles per hour, he certainly has what it takes to make the rotation this year, and hopefully dominate for years to come.
by Andy Mindzak