You likely don't need me to tell you this, but Kevin Gausman of the Toronto Blue Jays has been on a whole 'nother level to kick off the 2023 campaign.
Entering the season, Alek Manoah appeared to be the staff ace for the Blue Jays while Kevin Gausman was essentially the co-ace. Manoah was one of the best pitchers in the game last year while Gausman was criminally underrated and didn't regularly find himself in the same conversation as the Manoahs of the world did.
Here we are, just a few months into the season, and boy have things changed in a big way. Manoah is now a member of the Florida Complex League for the Blue Jays, trying desperately to regain his swagger and get back to the ace-level hurler we all know he can be. Gausman on the other hand, has elevated his game even further and is now easily one of the best starting pitchers in the game.
Tuesday night's outing against the Astros was just the latest of an ever-growing list of high-quality starts Gausman has been putting together for the Blue Jays this year. The right-hander went seven innings and allowed just one run, which came in the form of a home run by Mauricio Dubón on the very first pitch of the game. Oh, and he also struck out 13 batters while walking zero.
Gausman's 13 strikeouts ties a career-high that he had set back in late April in a start against the Mariners. His 11+ strikeout game total is now at five already, which is easily the most in the entire league and is two more starts than the second-place Spencer Strider and Zac Gallen.
There is no doubt about it, the 32-year-old is one of the best around right now. This continues an encouraging trend for Gausman, who appears to only be getting better with age. After floating around the league for nearly a decade without doing anything of note, he took off on the 2021 Giants and is now in his second above-average season with the Blue Jays.
As of right now, Gausman leads the major leagues in innings (82) and strikeouts (113) while leading the American League in FIP (2.30) and SO/9 (12.4). No matter how you look at it, the guy is legit and should no longer be considered "co-ace" of this Blue Jays squad. Through and through, he is the man.
Baseball Savant loves him, too. When you look at his page, there's a little bit of blue but it's predominantly red (which is good). Gausman is in the 64th percentile or higher in each of xERA, xBA, xSLG, K%, BB%, Whiff%, Chase Rate and Fastball Velocity. His lethal splitter remains one of the best pitches in baseball as well. He uses it just under 40 percent of the time and opposing batters have managed to post just a .169 batting average against it.
As is usually the case, though, Gausman does not quite get enough love on a national level. MLB posted a tweet last night regarding their latest Cy Young power rankings for each league and Gausman was nowhere to be found. Instead, they threw Gerrit Cole of the Yankees on there, despite the fact that Gausman has out-pitched him in nearly every way this year. If Gaus continues to put up these insane strikeout numbers while carrying the Blue Jays pitching staff, these rankings may change quickly.