Orioles manager Buck Showalter still won’t confirm Kevin Gausman as Thursday night’s starter against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. However, Gausman is on the taxi squad today, he’s flying with the team to Toronto later tonight and he’s going to start the series opener.
The Orioles will just wait until Thursday afternoon to make the move official. They will have to remove players from the 25- and 40-man rosters.
Jake Arrieta is the logical choice to be optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk, but nothing is official and it’s dangerous to play the guessing game with this organization.
Asked about Thurday’s starter, Showalter said, “I didn’t name one yet. We’ve got options, and Gaus is one of them. See how we get through tonight.
“He is officially on the taxi squad as we speak. We didn’t want to put him through customs, so I’ve always learned to add a little time to the projected time of arrival in our next city. So, we’ll see. I’d rather him travel with us than go in there by himself. Plus, if he travels by himself, he wouldn’t get to talk to you all, which is important, by God.”
What exactly went into the decision to bring Gausman to the majors?
“We’re trying to win, and we think he can help us. We’ll see,” Showalter said.
“We still have options for Thursday, the same picking group, so see how we get through tonight. The plan is to activate him tomorrow. We’ll see if that comes to pass. It should. We think he can help us. We’ll see.
“It’s kind of who we are and where we are. It’s always been a thought that it looked like it was going to be ‘when’ and not ‘if.’ He spent a lot of time down there (Double-A Bowie) doing some things he needed to do, and talking to Brian (Graham) and Gary Kendall, our pitching people, everybody felt like he was our best option right now to bring up here.”
This move brings the expected comparisons to the Manny Machado promotion last August, also from Bowie to the majors. And the makeup of both players factored into those decisions.
“But if anybody can sit here and tell you they know how that’s going to exactly happen, no, you don’t know,” Showalter said. “You make educated guesses, right? That’s what, a hypothesis? Just like umpires makes educated guesses a lot.
“We like him. We’ll see how it works out. Our curiosity will be satisfied - if we activate him.
“It’s the biggest jump in professional sports. I strongly believe that it’s from the minor leagues in baseball to the major leagues. I think the level of play is even more so for the position players than it is for the pitchers, because of the quality of pitching they face up here, comparatively speaking.
“We’ll see how it plays up here. I’ve seen a lot of guys that had low walk totals not have them up here. I’ve seen guys have high walk totals down there, and with more aggressive hitters they went down up here. It’s a different kind of hitter up here. They’re here because they can hit. So, we’ll see.
Asked if the Orioles can win without Gausman, Showalter replied, “I hope so. We came close to doing it last year. He wasn’t here, and he was in the organization.
“It would help. We have other people capable of it. I like a lot of things I’m seeing and hearing about guys that aren’t here and some that are here. I loved what I saw out of Miggy (Miguel Gonzalez) last night. It made me realize how much that blister might have been bothering him with the off-speed pitches. When he features all his pitches, he’s a challenge. And (Chris) Tillman.
“When we get our people healthy, we think we’ll run people out there who will give us a chance to win. And who knows the potential for Kevin to be a part of that?”
Showalter doesn’t expect Gausman to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere in Toronto, having pitched in high-intensity situations at LSU.
“And ability plays,” he said. “That gives you confidence.
“It’s like I said many times, you can’t screw up the good ones. They’re going to seek their level. And we think Kevin sooner or later will seek his level. We hope it’s soon.”
Showalter sought out catcher Matt Wieters to get his input on the best way for a top prospect to handle the pressure and lofty expectations that greet his arrival.
“There were some similarities with Wieters,” Showalter said. “I just said, ‘Matt, if you had to do it over again, how would you like to handle your first day here?’ And he made some very good points. And basically followed his lead today.”