Kevin Gausman is quietly making his case as one of baseball's top pitchers.
The Giants' ace didn’t have his best stuff but still mowed through the Cincinnati Reds lineup in a 4-0 victory Wednesday.
He also hit a milestone in the fifth inning, as his strikeout of Kyle Farmer was the 1,000th of his career.
“Obviously it’s meaningful to me, at least,” Gausman told reporters in his postgame press conference. “I think 1,000 strikeouts sounds like a huge, unobtainable number. It’s kind of cool that I got there. Now we start a new list and try to get to 2,000.”
It took Gausman eight-plus seasons and 212 appearances to achieve the feat, but the 30-year-old looks like he’s at the peak of his powers. He has completed at least six innings in all nine of his starts this season while his 1.66 ERA is third-best in the National League.
In Wednesday’s victory, Gausman leaned on his slider more than usual, giving a nod to catcher Buster Posey for calling a great game. Gausman usually relies on mixing his four-seamer and nasty splitter but had to audible and still finished six innings while giving up one hit, two walks and striking out eight.
“I think he’s pitching with a lot of confidence,” Posey said. “There’s belief each time he goes out there that he’s going to go deep into games for us. Even on nights when he doesn’t necessarily have his best stuff, he’s able to still get us through six [innings].”
Gausman might not have the same gravitas as Jacob DeGrom or Yu Darvish but he has been consistent and tough to hit with his 0.80 WHIP, which is fourth-best in the league. After Wednesday’s outing, Gausman has matched his 59 2/3 innings total from last season but shaved off nearly two full runs from his 3.64 ERA last year.
“Not to take anything away from his performance this year but he was excellent last year, too,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s just kind of improved on his performance from last year on paper, but it’s the same guy.”