We appreciate any talk of a player peaking is all about perspective. This specifically applies, when it comes to talking about Kevin Gausman.
Some would argue Gausman already peaked, back in 2021. That season saw a trio of firsts, including his inaugural All-Star selection, finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting and even receiving some MVP recognition.
From a purely statistical point, the 32-year-old had single-season career-bests, with a 5.2 WAR, 14 wins, a 2.81 ERA and 1.042 WHIP. Combined with surpassing 200 strikeouts for the first time, it was no wonder the Blue Jays offered him a five-year, $110 million deal after the 2021 campaign concluded.
Gausman continued to roll during his first season in Toronto, as an excellent number two in the rotation. Highlights included once again surpassing 200 strikeouts, as well as leading the AL with a career-low 2.38 FIP.
However, it was the 2023 season when the 2012 fourth overall draft pick truly established himself, as the Blue Jay staff ace. It was evident from early on he was going to have a strong campaign, as he established himself as a AL Cy Young candidate.
Gausman would eventually tail off as a genuine contender for the Cy Young, but still had an excellent year. He produced a 3.16 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 1.178 WHIP, to go along with an AL-leading and career-high 237 strikeouts.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and their fans, the righty couldn't continue his fine form into the playoffs. He allowed a trio of hits, walks and runs in just 4.0 innings versus the Twins in Game 1, with the team going on to lose the series 2-0.
The hope around Toronto is that Gausman has more to give, with there being every chance he will continue to produce next season. However, this is countered by concern that the Blue Jays might have now seen the best that he's capable of, with him only trending in a negative direction moving forward.