When the 2014 season begins, will Kevin Gausman pitch as a starter or reliever for the Orioles?
If he begins the year in the major leagues, I would expect that to happen with him in the rotation. I would guess Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette feel that way too, but Duquette did not 100 percent rule out a bullpen role for Guasman when asked about that earlier this week.
"We can decide that in spring training," Duquette said. "I think long-term, he is more valuable to the club as a starting pitcher. He made some good progress this year. He got more comfortable with his delivery and got better command of his pitches. He just needs more experience."
For those that prefer late-inning relievers to throw hard with swing-and-miss stuff, Gausman qualifies. He fanned 82 in 82 minor league innings in 2013 and he struck out 49 in 47 2/3 innings in the majors. In September with the Orioles, he walked four and fanned 21 in 13 1/3 innings.
As a starter in the majors last season, Gausman was 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA, and as a reliever, he went 3-2 with an ERA of 3.52. Over 23 bullpen innings, he walked seven and fanned 29. While Gausman allowed seven homers in just 24 2/3 frames as a starter, he gave up just one homer and a .205 batting average out of the bullpen.
But he has one of the best arms on the team, an arm that can throw a fastball touching 98-99 mph. An arm that should not be limited to bullpen innings, in my opinion. Not good resource allocation.
Still, if the O's can somehow produce a respectable rotation and they are contending, you can't rule out a bullpen role. You have to do what it takes to win, especially down the home stretch, and if that includes Gausman in the 'pen, so be it.
I guess Gausman in the bullpen is possible in 2014, but I don't see it as very likely.
As we head off to Orlando today for the Winter Meetings, what are your thoughts? What do the Orioles need to do over the next few days? What do you think they will do over that time? How much pressure is on the club to make moves to show something to the fans?
If you missed this: Check out this story by MASNsports.com's Olivia Witherite on Orioles superfan Romeo Santos. Santos has the chance to represent the Baltimore fanbase as he vies to be named to the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame.