By now, there is little doubt that Kevin Gausman knows what it is to master a splitter/split-changeup. The 32-year-old is in the midst of yet another strong season for the Toronto Blue Jays, posting a 5-3 record with a 3.12 ERA, 2.57 FIP and 131 ERA+ across 14 starts.
The right-hander's signature pitch is his splitter. Regularly referred to as one of the best pitches in Major League Baseball, Gausman has thrown it just under 39 percent of the time in 2023 to great results. Topping out around 87 mph, his splitter has allowed a batting average of just .151 this season while league average is .221.
People around beginning to really take notice that whatever he's got going for him with this specific pitch is working wonders. This includes Bradley Blalock, a prospect in the division rival Boston Red Sox system.
Blalock, 22, was drafted in the 32nd round by the Red Sox back in the 2019 MLB Draft and has made just 30 appearances since that season. Things have not gone well for him so far in his professional career, as he has struggled mightily with a whole slew of injuries, including a Tommy John surgery in March of 2022 that kept him out for the entire year.
Now back on the mound and at full health, Chris Smith of MassLive reports that Blalock has seen his velocity spike and has completely abandoned his changeup that was previously a part of his repertoire. In its place? A good old fashioned "Gausman split-change".
Per Smith, Blalock says:
"It’s kind of a changeup but not really. Last year, when I started playing catch, I knew my changeup was definitely my worst pitch. So I went to one of our pitching coordinators and our analytics guys. I was like, ‘Hey, what do you all think about changing it to the (Kevin) Gausman split-change?’"
Smith says that multiple members of the Red Sox developmental staff encouraged Blalock to give it a try, so he did just that. He continues in his chat with Smith:
"Before I even started throwing last year, I had a ball in my hand getting used to the grip just standing there watching other guys throw while I was not able to. I had a ball and I was kind of getting used to that grip. So I think that kind of helped. And I watched some YouTube videos and just watched how he (Gausman) threw it."
Things have gone well for Blalock and his new pitch in his first few starts post-Tommy John. In three outings and 13 innings, he has a 1.38 ERA with 16 strikeouts against just three walks. He is still in A-Ball, so it's going to be a while before he becomes a thorn in the Blue Jays' side, but it's interesting that someone in a rival organization is taking notice of Gausman's success and doing what he can to replicate it.