In 2016, the Orioles Opening Day rotation is likely to feature Kevin Gausman for the first time, and they need him.
Big years from Chris Tillman, who’s had them before, and Gausman, are vital if the Orioles are to make up for expected free agent losses.
Wei-Yin Chen, who has given the team four consistent years, is likely to depart, and while the Orioles will be searching for someone to join Gausman, Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez, they’re expected a big leap from Gausman.
At the trading deadline, teams inquired about Gausman. The Orioles declined to consider moving him.
It seems as if Gausman has been with the Orioles for years, but it’s only been three.
Gausman is 14-19 with a 4.21 ERA in those years. He’s started 42 times and relieved 23 more.
His days of being used out of the bullpen are likely over.
Like Gausman, it took Tillman until his fourth year before he really prove he belonged. In Tillman’s first three years, he was 7-15 with an ERA of about 5.50.
He had 2 ½ fine seasons before falling back this year. The Orioles hope he’ll revert to his 2012-14 form, and that Gausman will follow.
Gausman started the 2015 season in the bullpen, but went to the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis a month into the season.
He didn’t pitch for the Orioles from May 6-June 20 and because the team wanted to manage his innings, Gausman wasn’t put permanently into the rotation until after the All-Star break.
Overall his record was 4-7 with a 4.25 ERA, but in checking his season splits, there were some fascinating discoveries.
Gausman pitched best after Sept. 1. He was 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA in his final six starts, but in six August starts he had struck out nearly six times as many as he walked. In those August appearances, Gausman was 1-4 with a 4.58 ERA.
So many pitchers have better reverse splits now, and Gausman is one of them. Righties hit .278 against him, but left-handers just .227.
Fans coming to Oriole Park can expect strong outings from Gausman. He was 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA at home and just 1-6 with a 6.10 ERA.
While Tillman was horrific against Toronto, and manager Buck Showalter tried to hide Chen when he saw Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion approaching, Gausman was 1-0 with a 2.20 ERA facing the Blue Jays.
Growth from Gausman will go a long way to make up for the expected departure of Chen.
He was the fourth overall pick in 2012. In an incredibly strong draft, Gausman was selected ahead of Andrew Heaney, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, Michael Wacha, Marcus Stroman and Lance McCullers.
The Orioles need a breakout year from Gausman in 2016.
NOTE: Jorge Rondon, who was designated for assignment last week to make room for Vance Worley, was claimed on waivers by Pittsburgh. Rondon was 0-1 with a 7.43 ERA in eight games. Worley was claimed from the Pirates.