Kevin Gausman had his first undesirable outing for the Baltimore Orioles in the month of June. Manager Buck Showalter should recognize that periodically sending him down to Triple-A is detrimental to his development and therefore his ball club.
Gausman was lights out in three previous starts against two very tough opponents in June, but today’s start against the normally struggling Tampa Bay Rays could be considered a setback. He looked out of sync, like he had lost any momentum or confidence he was riding during his hot stretch earlier this month.
Sending a player on assignment can mess with their psyche. The Orioles claimed when they demoted Gausman following a game on Jun. 20 that it was a procedural move, but what kind of a procedure is it to send your most productive starter down to the minors? Either way, strategic or not, it sends the wrong message to Gausman. He had a 0.95 ERA and a 3-0 record this month heading into this afternoon’s start. To break that up with a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk seems unjust.
During his demotion, Gausman pitched only one inning and allowed two earned runs and three hits. It makes little sense for a pitcher who was shutting down the likes of the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays at the MLB level to be throwing in Triple-A, let alone struggling there. His shortcomings over that one inning point to psychological distress by Gausman from confusion as to why the organization is not treating him like their possible ace of the future, which he very well could be in Baltimore.
Showalter needs to keep Gausman in Baltimore and give him the innings and experience he both needs and deserves. He’s 23 now, but Gausman showed through most of June he is fully capable of being a valuable contributor at the major league level. The injury to SP Bud Norris will hopefully open a door for Gausman. But even if it doesn’t and Showalter does not make him a permanent fixture in the O’s rotation, putting him in a long relief role in the bullpen where he can log a bunch of innings against big league batters would be best for Gausman.