During a long, stressful 162 game MLB season, every pitcher goes through a rough patch.
Giants ace Kevin Gausman has hit that moment in his 2021 season, putting together back-to-back rough outings.
Unlike Gausman's last start in Los Angeles where the Giants were able to overcome his subpar performance, San Francisco was in a hole Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates that they couldn't climb out of, eventually losing 10-2.
In 4 1/3 innings against the Pirates, Gausman was knocked around, allowing eight hits, six earned runs and four walks. He struck out only two batters and threw 89 pitches in the abbreviated outing.
Gausman's splitter has been one of his most effective pitches this season, but against the Dodgers and Pirates, it hasn't been there for him.
"Really, my last two games, it's been frustrating," Gausman told reporters on a video conference call after the game. "Just haven't had a feel for it. A lot of the pitches I have thrown with it have kind of been uncompetitive ball out of my hand. It's definitely been a challenge and it's a big pitch for me, so I just gotta keep throwing it and find that feel for it."
Manager Gabe Kapler told reporters that the coaching staff plans to meet with Gausman over the next few days to try to figure out how to get him back on track, but the 2021 All-Star believes he knows where they need to start.
"I just think it's something mechanical that I'm doing," Gausman said. "I'm not staying behind the ball. My fastball is cutting and all my misses are down in the zone, and for me, that's kind of a tell-tale sign that I'm getting ahead of myself going towards home plate just a tad quicker than I have been through much of the year."
Entering Saturday's start, Gausman had thrown his splitter 38 percent of the time, but against the Pirates, he used it on just 10 of 89 pitches (11 percent), and Pittsburgh hitters swung just one time. Of the 670 splitters he had thrown this season entering his latest start, hitters had whiffed on 49.6 percent of those pitches.
So something clearly isn't right for Gausman if he's only throwing his splitter 10 times during an entire start and inducing just one swing.
Gausman and the Giants have a few days to get things figured out before he faces the dangerous Houston Astros lineup on Friday in San Francisco.
Gausman needs to fix his splitter and return to the dominant form that earned him an All-Star nod if the Giants want to hold off the Dodgers and San Diego Padres in the NL West race.