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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Kevin Gausman

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Now that we have a start date for the season (Home Opener looks to be April 8th, against the Odorless Rangers), I will have to get working on these if I intend to get to the finish line before the end season start.

Kevin Gausman is a 31-year-old, right-hand starter which (to this point) is our big free-agent signing of the winter. He will make $110 million over his five-year contract, getting $21 million this year and next. $24 million in 2024, and $23 million in 2025 and 26.

There might be a bit of buying at the top of his value. It isn’t precisely buying low, but I hope he stays at this level for the next few years.

Kevin has played in the MLB for 9 seasons, mostly with the Orioles, but Braves, Reds and Giants over the past three seasons. He has a 64-72 record, a 4.02 ERA in 236 games, 197 starts. I’ll admit I was never much of a fan when he was with the Orioles. He seemed to be just an average pitcher, at best. But, Keith Law tells us it was the Orioles' fault:

Gausman just needed to get away from Baltimore to unlock his potential as a starter. Buck Showalter and his Orioles staff kept trying to move Gausman to the extreme third-base end of the rubber to give him more deception against right-handed batters, since he has never had an average breaking ball, but it cost Gausman command, especially to his glove side. He was just generally ineffective as a result.

I’m sure he’ll win me over.

His best season (by far) was last year. He went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA in 33 starts for the Giants, good for a 5.2 bWAR, far outpacing his previous best, 3.9 bWAR in 2016. Last year, the batters hit .210/.264/.346 against him, and he did about the same against lefties and right-handers.

What did Kevin do better? A lot of it was giving up fewer home runs. Before last season he was giving up about 1.3 home runs per nine innings. Last year he gave up .94 per nine innings.

Beyond that, his strikeout rate climbed the last couple of years. He struck out 29.3% last year. Before 2019 he was generally around 22%, but then strikeouts are up across baseball. His walk rate was 6.5%, close to his career rate.

He throws mostly a four-seam fastball (averaging 94.7 MPH, right around his career mark) and a splitter which seems to be the pitch that led to his improvement (check out this FanGraphs story, they say he had the best splitter/changeup in baseball). There is also a very occasional slider and change.

PECOTA sees Gausman making 29 starts, throwing 169 innings with a 3.26 ERA. So I want to think if he has an ERA under 3.50 and makes 29 starts, he’ll throw more than 169 innings, but I think we’d be happy with that sort of season.

Poll

If the over/under on Kevin Gausman innings is 169 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Over
    (338 votes)
  • 21%
    Under
    (90 votes)
428 votes total Vote Now

Poll

By the end of the season our number one starter will be

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Jose Berrios
    (364 votes)
  • 11%
    Kevin Gausman
    (69 votes)
  • 24%
    Alek Manoah
    (153 votes)
  • 5%
    Hyun Jin Ryu
    (32 votes)
618 votes total Vote Now