The Blue Jays play the third game of a four-game set against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon. Aaron Sanchez takes the ball for the Blue Jays, while Kevin Gausman pitches for the Orioles.
Kevin Gausman has been in the Orioles system for his entire professional career. His years with the big club in Baltimore have been inconsistent at best. Whenever he has managed a sub-three ERA one year, it jumps back up to over four the next year.
The former first-round pick has struggled again this year. Through 12 starts with the Orioles, he has posted a 3-5 record, 4.63 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.400 WHIP, and 90 ERA+. As well, he has been worth just 0.8 fWAR.
Gausman allowed six earned runs in his first start of the year. The game launched his ERA to an astronomic 13.50. However, until mid-May, the starter was on quite the roll. The righty dropped his ERA down to a great 3.18 in just seven starts. However, the wheels seem to have fallen off again, as he holds an 8.53 ERA in his past four starts.
The right-hander relies heavily on his four-seam fastball. However, he will also mix in splitters, sliders, and occasional change-ups, sinkers, and curveballs. The use rate of the change, sinker, and curve is so small it is almost negligible.
The right-hander absolutely loves his fastball, using the heater 57.7% of the time this season. Interestingly, despite its high use rate, it is still used a fair amount less than last season, when the righty used the fastball 64.2% of the time. The fastball is quite quick, averaging a velocity of 94.05 mph. Despite its high use, the fastball has not been effective. The pitch has given up terrible numbers—.367 BAA and .603 SLGA—but, most alarmingly, it has been responsible for nine home runs.
The righty has used his slow, big breaking slider 15.6% of the time this season. The slider maintains shallow 12-6 movement at an average velocity of 81.72 mph. The slider has produced a decent amount of whiffs, currently holding a rate of 30.26% of swings. However, the breaking ball has produced just 4 punch outs.
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As referenced before, all of the change-up, sinker, and curveball are seldom used by Gausman. The off-speed pitch is used the most, at 1.3%, while the curve and sinker are utilized at 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively. Interestingly, the sinker is thrown by the righty with a one-seam fastball grip. In limited usage, none of the three pitches have surrendered a hit.
The home run ball has killed the right-hander this year. Through 12 starts and 70 innings pitched, he has allowed 13 home runs. Currently, the righty’s HR/9 sits at a poor 1.67. However, with a high 18.3% HR/FB rate, the right-hander should expect some positive regression.
Gausman has produced strikeouts at an above average rate this season, currently sitting at a decent 22.2%. In total, the righty has managed 68 strikeouts in 70 innings, for a decent 8.74 K/9.
The right-handed hurler doesn’t excel in any one type of batted ball. On the season the righty has a 45.8% ground ball rate and 32.9% fly ball rate. Both rates are just behind what qualifies a pitcher as either a ground ball or fly ball pitcher.
The Blue Jays, as a team, own a great .298/.371/.462 slash line in 171 career at-bats against the LSU alumnus. Kevin Pillar has dominated Gausman in the past, posting .429 AVG and .931 OPS in 28 at-bats. Even Justin Smoak, who has struggled to hit off of the Colorado native, has managed three walks and a double in 16 plate appearances against the right-hander.
The Blue Jays look to win the series on Saturday afternoon. Gausman has been up and down this season, but the Blue Jays have great numbers against the lifelong Orioles pitcher.