Kevin Gausman was our big free agent signing before the 2022 season. The Jays gave him a five-year, $110 million contract. And he earned his money. FanGraphs had him at a 5.7 WAR, making him worth $45.7 million to the team. Kevin turned 32 earlier this month and has three years left on his contract.
Earlier in his career, he was one of those guys who was all potential but couldn’t seem to find consistency from start to start or year to year. But, since turning 30, he’s had two very good seasons in a row. Over the last two years, he’s made 64 starts with a 3.07 ERA and a 26-16 record, with an 8.1 bWAR.
What changed? Well, more strikeouts. He had a 28.3% strikeout rate last year after being in the lower 20s earlier in his career. Last year he only walked 3.9% of batters, but that’s the first time he’s been under 6%. Last year he didn’t give out his first walk until his sixth start and didn’t walk more than two in a game until June 11th.
Besides that, he was much the same pitcher as in the past, giving up line drives, ground balls and fly balls at right about his career average. He did have a little more soft contact last year (15.9% compared to 17.4 career) and a little less hard contact (30.3% compared to 32.7 career).
Gausman has been a two-pitch pitcher most of his career, throwing a mid-90s four-seam fastball up and a mid-80s cutter down. Last year, after some games where he was hit a bit harder, he started mixing in a slider (14.3% of the time).
In April and May, he had a 2.51 ERA, and batters had a .597 OPS against him. In June and July, that jumped to 4.43 and .882. But, after some tinkering, he got back to a 3.42 ERA and .668 OPS in August and September.
The mid-season doldrums (along with a great season by Alek Manoah) cost him the number 1 spot in the rotation, but it is pretty hard to complain about his year as a whole.
The question is, can he do it again? Steamer thinks he can. It is predicting 32 starts, a 3.45 ERA in 181 innings (of course, these predictions were made before the team announced the dimension changes at Rogers). That would give him three excellent seasons in a row, all with over 170 innings pitched.
And at 32, there is no reason to think he should fall off a lot. His arm wasn’t overly abused in his 20s. He should be good to pitch into his mid-30s (he says, hopefully).
If the over/under for Gausman’s innings pitched is 180 I’d take the
If the over/under on Gausman’s ERA is 3.45 I’d take the
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