When Kevin Gausman fanned five Boston batters in a dominating two-inning outing last night, it was the latest chapter in what has been a busy and interesting season for the Orioles' 22-year-old pitching prospect.
The club's top draft pick last season began 2013 in Double-A Bowie's rotation. He was called up to pitch as a starter for the Orioles in late May, then sent back to the minors at Triple-A Norfolk and returned to Baltimore to pitch out of the bullpen.
Three teams and two different roles for the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
"Definitely different," Gausman said recently when asked about his 2013 season. "Something that takes a little bit to get used to. I've never worked out of the bullpen. It was awesome to work back-to-back days in New York. I want to be a guy that can go back-to-back days."
Gausman made those comments during the O's last homestand and he worked back-to-back games in Boston, pitching three scoreless innings over the two nights and as he showed off his talent and vast potential.
Gausman is 2-5 with a 5.64 ERA in 17 games with five starts as an Oriole. He went 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA as a starter and is 2-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 20 innings as a reliever. He has had three separate stints in the majors, from May 23-June 13, June 24-July 9 and from Aug. 28 until now.
Since he took the loss Sept. 10 against the Yankees, Gausman has pitched four times, throwing 4 2/3 shutout innings on one hit with eight strikeouts.
Last month at Triple-A, the organization limited his innings, but he had maybe his best month of the year, going 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four August starts for Norfolk.
"I just kind of got into a rythm and hit my stride right there. I would have wanted to pitch later in the games because I was pitching well. But it was a great experience and felt like I learned how to pitch down there. Learned more of a routine when starting, so that was nice and more than anything, I was just trying to pitch down in the zone," he said.
Back in July, Gausman revealed he was throwing a second changeup, which was interesting because scouts already considered his changeup a plus pitch. While he said his slider continues to make strides, the second changeup has become a solid pitch for him, as well.
"I feel like I have a way better grasp of what my slider is and what it is going to be from here on out. Probably the pitch I've made the biggest stride with this year is my circle change. It's kind of a get-me-over changeup," he said.
"I've only been throwing it for about two months now and it's been awesome for me. It's been a big pitch for me and was a big pitch for me in Norfolk."
Has that become his preferred changeup of the two he now throws?
"Both are completely different," he said. "My split (changeup) is more of an out pitch and that is what I get the majority of my strikeouts on. The circle change is a little harder and doesn't have as much depth as my split."
The Red Sox got a look at all those pitches last night.