After an impressive rookie year, a lot was expected, both in real life and fantasy, from Kevin Gausman in his sophomore campaign.
Gausman may still have a good year, but it appears as though he'll have to do it a few innings at a time, at least in the early going. Long expected to be a member of the Orioles' starting rotation, manager Buck Showalter instead suggested the 24-year-old could open the season in the bullpen.
“Might bring Gaus' back shorter until everything shakes out,” Showalter said after Gausman threw an inning of relief Thursday. “I want him to be ready to do both things. There’s a possibility for everybody — really, all options open right now. We’ve got some time to make decisions, dealing from some quality right now. I don’t worry about it a lot because we’re picking from a number of people we like, as opposed to last man standing.”
Gausman is saying all the right things, but it seems to be a misuse of the former No. 4 overall selection. More than other pitchers forcing the Orioles' hand with their pitching this spring, the club seems to be handing rotation spots to more veteran pitchers who, in the case of Ubaldo Jimenez at least, make too much money to be deployed elsewhere.
With Zach Britton locked in as closer and Darren O'Day, among others, providing late-inning support, Gausman likely won't even be able to find some fantasy value as a closer while in the bullpen. It may not be permanent -- in fact, it may not even happen, as Showalter left the door open for a range of possibilities regarding the right-hander -- but it's hard to know where to draft Gausman right now. The bold will draft him for his upside and the fact that he could be starting sooner than later, but there are plenty more options around his 253 ADP that have more stable situations than his at this point.
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Resolution Coming For Hamilton
The uncertainly surrounding Josh Hamilton's situation may be coming to an end soon.
Major League Baseball is expected to make a decision regarding a potential suspension for Josh Hamilton prior to Opening Day, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported Thursday. A suspension "of some length" is expected for Hamilton, who admitted he suffered a relapse from his sobriety over the winter.
The length of that potential suspension is still unclear. Per differing reports, Hamilton could get as few as 15 games, although unlikely, or something ranging from 25 games to a full season. How MLB views Hamilton's drug history in relation to the latest relapse -- for his issues, Hamilton has never actually failed an MLB drug test -- will go a long way toward understanding the suspension's length.
Of course, a potential suspension isn't the only thing threatening to keep the 33-year-old out of action. Hamilton is currently rehabbing from February surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. At the long end of his recovery timetable, Hamilton could be out until mid-to-late May as he rehabs the shoulder.
MLB's decision should bring much-needed clarity to Hamilton's status shortly.
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Aiken Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
Brady Aiken's bid to be the first overall selection in two consecutive drafts took a hit Thursday.
In an essay penned for The Players' Tribune, Aiken revealed he underwent surgery Wednesday for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. The Tommy John surgery will keep him out of game action for at least a calendar year.
"When I woke up after surgery yesterday, my surgeon at HSS, Dr. David Altchek, told me that the operation was a success," Aiken wrote. "I already have a plan in place to rehab my arm, and I plan to come back better than ever."
Aiken was angling to be one of the first picks off the board this June after agreeing to pitch for IMG Academy's post-graduate team during spring. But Aiken's plans went awry quickly, as he left his first outing last Thursday after just 12 pitches.
Aiken went No. 1 overall to the Astros last summer, but the two sides couldn't agree to a deal after it was discovered Aiken had an abnormally small UCL. The Astros offered Aiken a signing bonus well below slot value as a result, and the 18-year-old opted to instead take his chances in this year's draft. The Astros took heat at the time for what was viewed as the team trying to squeeze the amateur.
The Blue Jays drafted Jeff Hoffman with the ninth overall pick last June despite the pitcher having had Tommy John surgery, so teams certainly aren't averse to taking talented players that they may have to wait a while longer on. It will be interesting to see where Aiken lands this June.
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Opening Day Openers
A few pitchers made strides toward being ready for Opening Day assignments Thursday.
Some were as simple as a manager saying so, as Rangers manager Jeff Banister tapped Yovani Gallardo for the assignment against the Athletics on April 6. The honor will be Gallardo's sixth in a row, as he started the past five Opening Day games for the Brewers before joining the Rangers in an offseason trade this winter.
For Jon Lester, it was throwing in a minor league game. Lester threw 54 pitches in an appearance Thursday, facing 12 batters as he attempts to overcome a tired arm. Lester will jump up to 75 or 80 pitches in another minor league game next week with an eye on being ready for Opening Night against the Cardinals on April 5.
And while it technically isn't an Opening Day gig, Derek Holland is the Rangers' likely starter for their home opener on April 10. Holland dealt with shoulder soreness early in camp, but he's ready to go and will take the hill for the second of what Banister called "two opening days."