He is one of baseball’s best pitching prospects. He is a pitcher the Orioles like a lot. He has an ERA of 1.85 over his last four Double-A starts.
Despite all that, the message the Orioles seemed to be sending this week was that Kevin Gausman may make the O’s roster this year, but not in the very near future.
The Orioles rotation is springing some leaks right now and two members of that rotation, Wei-Yin-Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, are currently on the DL, but it’s not Gausman’s time yet, it seems.
For one, the Orioles want to take a look at other in-house options like Freddy Garcia, who has been here, and Jair Jurrjens, who is coming here and is expected to pitch Saturday.
Maybe they don’t want to bring up Gausman at a time when the rotation is scuffling to make it look like they are asking the kid to save the ship.
He may just not be ready yet. This is open for debate, but we do have to keep in mind that Gausman has pitched a total of 55 1/3 innings - or 58 1/3 innings, if you count a playoff start for Bowie last September that does not show up in the stats.
Even for a mature and polished pitcher with two plus pitches already, bringing him up after that few innings would be pretty fast.
Gausman is clearly challenged in the Eastern League right now and while he is pitching well and has been quite impressive, it’s not like he’s been so good they simply can’t keep him on the farm any longer.
This week, manager Buck Showalter talked about Gausman with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko.
“We’re excited about having him,” Showalter said. “He’s getting challenged there like he should. He’s competing, adjusting well. It’s not like he’s just throwing his hat out there and everybody’s bowing at his feet. But at the same time, it’s a good challenge for him and we’ll see where it takes us. It’s good to think he could present himself as an option for us at some point in his career. And I’ll leave it at that.”
There will be some that speculate that the Orioles are holding Gausman out for perhaps another month to get past the point where he could become eligible to be a Super Two in arbitration and get four arbitration years rather than three. That is possible, but to me, the other reasons cited above seem more likely to be why it’s not his time yet.
The next six games for the Orioles will come against Tampa Bay and the Yankees. The O’s starters have pitched to an ERA of 6.37 over the past six games. It will be interesting to see how the starters do in this stretch which figures to really test the ballclub.
I have seen Gausman touch 98 mph with his fastball and mix in an excellent changeup that features both deceptive arm action and great late movement. His slider is making solid progress.
O’s fans are probably knocking on wood hard right now when they hear such accolades for a young pitcher because they have been burned before.
Gausman looks like he is going to get a chance and perhaps be able to provide legit help to this rotation at some point this year. That point has just not come yet and there seem to be very legit reasons for that.