Kevin Gausman is on the mound tonight for the Orioles, searching for his first major league win in the opener of a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox.
As usual, no pressure.
During his last two starts, the Gameday pitch tracker kept giving readings on a "splitter," which seemed curious, since Gausman doesn't throw a split-fingered fastball. One split was clocked at 81 mph, the next at 88 mph.
Gausman explained earlier this week that the confusion stems from the two changeups that he includes in his arsenal. One is a "split change" as he calls it.
"It's the same changeup that I've always thrown," he said. "That's the pitch that's usually 82-85 mph. It looks like a curveball when you're watching from behind.
"My last two starts, I've been mixing in a circle change, which is 88-90. I really like that. But somebody was telling me the other day that they thought I was throwing a forkball on that tracker, or whatever it's called. But no, it's just a split change."
One changeup pretty much involves only the index and middle fingers. The circle change also separates the two fingers, but the ring and pinkie fingers also come into play, if that makes any sense.
It's easier to demonstrate than describe.
"I've only thrown my circle change in two starts, but I really like it so far," Gausman said. "That's what I got (Evan) Longoria to chase a couple times. I've gotten some ugly swings on it."
The circle change is more of a straight change. It's closer to his fastball velocity. It's got late sink. The split changeup is more of a "swing-and-miss chase pitch," Gausman said, "more of an early count strike pitch."
"That's been my changeup since I was at LSU," Gausman said. "Nobody really asked too many questions about it in the minors, what my grips are. That's one thing I noticed."
Gausman also throws a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a slider that's still a work in progress.
In his only home start this season, Gausman held the Detroit Tigers to one earned run in six innings.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter will break out his right-handed lineup tonight against Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront. Steve Pearce will probably start in left field and Danny Valencia will serve as the designated hitter.
Alexi Casilla will start at second base if his finger allows it. He remains day-to-day.
Chris Davis is 5-for-10 with a double and home run against Doubront, and he's heating up again after that 0-for-16 slump. Manny Machado is 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Nick Markakis is 3-for-4.
The forecast for tonight is pretty bad, but the Orioles aren't going to make any decisions on the game this early in the afternoon. And I'm not making any more predictions after being certain that Monday's game wouldn't resume in the bottom of the sixth while small lakes formed all over the Camden Yards field and warning track.
This ballpark may have the best drainage system in baseball, and the grounds crew is exceptional. Nice combination, and one that shouldn't go overlooked.