The Baltimore Orioles are struggling to start the 2014 season, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll continue to struggle as a team as the year goes on. However, if one of the Orioles’ five starting pitchers struggles or sustains an injury, Kevin Gausman, the flame-throwing donut aficionado, could have a breakout year in 2014.
Gausman made the decision for Buck Showalter, Dave Wallace and the rest of the Orioles’ coaching staff really difficult in Spring Training in regards to whether Gausman should make the Opening Day rotation or not. Despite pitching to a 1-0 record and an impressive 2.45 ERA in 11 innings pitched that included 13 strikeouts, the Orioles decided to give Gausman more time in the minor leagues to grow as a pitcher.
The highly touted prospect was known for his ability to strike batters out thanks to a nasty fastball that he routinely throws in the mid-90’s with the potential to touch triple digits, a plus changeup that looks very similar to his fastball but is about 10 miles per hour slower, and a solid slider; since being drafted by Baltimore, he’s been working on developing a curveball. The main thing that Gausman has to work on at the major league level though, is giving up less hits and less home runs.
Gausman already got the major league jitters out of his system last season by starting five games and coming out of the bullpen 15 times in 2013. Gausman struggled though, going 3-5 with an ERA of 5.66, but he didn’t look overmatched, and that’s what’s most important. Despite giving up 1.5 home runs per nine innings and 9.6 hits per nine innings last season, there were still positives to take from his performances last season. A very high 9.3 strikeouts per nine inning ratio from a year ago proves that Gausman not only has the stuff, but he has the mindset to take on the best hitters in the game and go right at them. You can’t underestimate how important confidence is to a starting pitcher.
Given a chance in 2014, I think that Gausman will benefit from an entire offseason under his belt and impress people at the major league level.