WASHINGTON - Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Kevin Gausman will make his third major league start on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards.
Gausman will be making his home debut against a team that began tonight leading the American League in average, hits, runs and on-base percentage.
"He's fine. He'll be all right," Showalter said.
Gausman allowed seven runs and eight hits in four innings tonight in a 9-3 loss to the Washington Nationals before 35,664 at Nationals Park.
"He elevated some fastballs," Showalter said. "We all know they can turn around a bullet at this level, but he's going to be a good pitcher. You saw two young pitchers going through the process of learning up here. We had some opportunities to score, but we had a tough time keeping the ball in the ballpark. It'll get better.
"He elevated some off-speed pitches and he made some quality pitches. When he did, they weren't very good swings off him. He'll make the adjustment. He's a good young man and a good athlete with a bright future ahead of him and I'm real glad he's ours.
"After a rain delay, it was probably a little challenging for both young pitchers, sitting around for a while, but that's part of pitching up here and that happens in the minor leagues and that happens at LSU, too. It's all something he'll learn from and he'll get better."
Asked if Gausman is ready now, Showalter said, "Well, I don't know. There's nights when guys who have been here for a while struggle. Pitching in the big leagues is hard. And he's got the talent to do it and eventually he will. And I look forward to it being next time out. He knows mistakes get magnified here. But it's part of the process, both the young pitchers tonight. You can see why they like him (Nate Karns) and you can see why we like ours and we'll continue down the process."
As for the difference from the start in Toronto and tonight's outing, Showalter held his fingers a few inches apart and said, "This much elevation on a fastball is the difference. When he got it down a few times, there were not very good swings off him. Command of the breaking ball wasn't... the changeup wasn't as good as it's going to be for him. He'll get these two games under his belt and smart guys and competitive people like he is, they sit back and take it in. And he'll get better. He'll get better.
"I always look at best-case scenario. Every outing, next pitch, next inning is going to be a little better. It's so much easier in the National League to kind of get guys through outings. Both of them. You saw the process tonight, it's something you've got to work your way through. I'm real glad he's ours, they're real glad (Karns) is theirs and they'll figure it out, he'll figure it out."
The Orioles assume that Gausman will handle the adversity without letting it destroy his confidence, but there's only one way to find out.
"Nobody knows that stuff for sure, but we'll take a look at it as it goes," Showalter said. "So far it's been great. It's part of what they go through. The good ones figure it out and we think he's got a chance to be one."
Gausman served up three home runs, including Adam LaRoche's three-run shot in the first inning.
"I just kind of missed my spot on that one pitch, and after that inning I was kind of hoping that that was all it was going to be," he said. "I made some good pitches in the second and third inning and felt like I was starting to get into my groove and then I just had the same thing, got in some hitter's counts and left some pitches up."
Gausman was ahead of Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina when they homered in the fourth.
"I think I didn't throw a pitcher's pitch in both those situations," he said. "Right there, I've got to be better and I've got to hit my spot. Not only hit my spot, but make more of a pitcher's pitch. Both those pitches were a little too good."
Gausman received another lesson on the difference between Double-A hitters and major league hitters.
"It's definitely something I've noticed," he said. "I've only had two starts and all the pitches that I leave up are the ones that get hit pretty far and pretty hard. That's something I've got to keep working at and try to get back to what I've been doing the entire season when I was in Bowie. Just get better.
"It's definitely harder than Double-A, but I definitely knew there was going to be a jump and there's going to be learning curves and that's what I'm trying to look at it as, something where hopefully all of this can make me better.
"I think right now, just getting innings under my belt is going to be better than anything, so just trying to learn and work on it during my bullpen days, work on throwing more pitcher's pitches in pitcher's counts.
"I definitely had to change some things there and I'll have to change some things here now. And just kind of try to get back to what I do and the type of pitcher I am. I'm a low fastball groundball pitcher and so I've got to be able to get ahead in the counts and throw my secondary pitches for strikes more effectively."
Gausman didn't have his changeup tonight and made some mistakes with his other pitches.
"I felt like I threw some pretty good sliders," he said. "I threw some good changeups, but more than anything, I think I was getting in those counts where I was ahead, but I wasn't making a pitcher's pitch. You can look back and see that I kind of hung that slider a little bit and it was down in the zone, but it was kind of a loopy slider there and that's a pitch in that count where maybe I need to bury it or something like that. That's kind of frustrating."
Despite allowing 11 runs and 15 hits in two starts over nine innings, Gausman remains confident in his ability to pitch at this level.
"Yeah, definitely," he said. "I know that my stuff plays here I can kind of feel it when those guys come up to me. When I came out, (Jason) Hammel came up to me, he talked about his debut and all the struggles he's been through in his career. That's good to know these guys feel like I belong here. I'll just try to work on it in my bullpen day, learn from it and get better."
He needs to improve quickly with the Tigers looming.
"That's something that's up to them, but obviously it shows that they have a lot of faith in me," Gausman said. "Like I just said, I have confidence in myself. My confidence is still there and I know that I have the pitches to be here. I just need to be more consistent with them and just try to get better and just try to attack the bottom half of the zone."