Kevin Gausman provides best possible update on his status for Opening Day

Go ahead and take a big sigh of relief, Blue Jays fans.

Feb 16, 2024; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kevin Gausman (34) works out at
Feb 16, 2024; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kevin Gausman (34) works out at / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

It's only been for a short while, but the Toronto Blue Jays have been without Kevin Gausman for around a week and the fans were not having it.

Gausman, 33, is undoubtedly the ace of this staff and was all but guaranteed to finally earn that elusive Opening Day nod before he halted baseball activities thanks to shoulder fatigue. Since that initial news came out, the only thing shared with the public was that Gausman had begun to play catch.

Earlier on Friday, MLB Network's Jon Morosi finally shared the positive update (X link) that all Blue Jays fans have been waiting for. The insider relayed that Gausman himself shared on MLB Network Radio that he'll be ready for the regular season. The right-hander told the MLBN panelists that he just tried to go too hard, too early on in spring, which resulted in some soreness.

This update is most welcomed, as now it appears, barring any more injuries, Gausman is going to earn the first Opening Day start of his career. He has long been deserving of such an honor, but he's consistently been blocked by starters teams view as just a hair better than him. With Alek Manoah giving way to Gausman as the undeniable ace of the Jays, it's finally the latter's time to shine.

Last season, Gausman made 31 starts for the Blue Jays, going 12-9 with a 3.16 ERA and sparkling 2.97 FIP. His 134 ERA+ puts him at a cool 34 percent above league-average as a starting pitcher, and he also led the American League in strikeouts with 237. Gausman once again ranked amongst the very best in the game when it came to Chase % (87th percentile) and K% (93rd), furthering the fact that he's turned himself into one of the very best starting pitchers this game has to offer.

Fresh off of a third-place finish in the AL Cy Young voting, Gausman is nearing game activity and is certainly going to lead this staff come the regular season.

Now, it's just a matter of figuring out who is going to follow him. With Maonah dealing with his own concerning injuries, there seems to be a wide open spot in the starting rotation. Yariel Rodriguez, who has yet to throw an inning in spring training, is likely ticketed for Triple-A to start the year, so it appears that Bowden Francis or Mitch White are first in line for the fifth-starter spot.