Kevin Gausman was signed as a free agent before the 2022 season as a replacement for Robbie Ray, who signed with the Mariners. Ray had a good 2022 season but only made one start this season and needed Tommy John surgery. He’ll likely be out until the middle of next season.
Gausman had a very nice first season of his five-year, $110 million contract. We didn’t have much doubt that he would continue to be good this year, even though he turned 32 this year.
Baseball Reference has him at a 3.4 WAR (up from 3.1 last year). FanGraphs at 5.3 (just short of his 5.7 last year), making him worth $42.4 million to the Blue Jays.
He had a 2.97 FIP and a 3.22 xFIP.
Kevin’s BABIP was .321 down from .363 last year. 76.8% of his baserunners were stranded up from 74.0 last year.
His line drive rate was down a fair bit (19.0% from 24.6), ground ball rate up (42.6% from 39.2), and fly ball rate was up (38.3% from 36.1).
His strikeout rate was up (31.1% from 28.3%), but his walk rate was way up (7.2% from 3.9%). Last year was the outlier.
Kevin’s soft contact was up a bit (16.5% from 15.9%) and hard contact was up (36.9% from 30.3).
In a switch from last year, Right-handed hitters (.218/.276/.342) didn’t hit him as well as left-handers (.250/.310/.422). Last year, RHB had a .763 OPS, while LHB were at .608.
Gausman was much the same on the road (3.27, batters hit .228/.292/.366) as at home (3.07, batters hit .239/.290/.393). Last year he was much better on the road.
And his first half (3.03, .233/.284/.358) was better than his second half (3.38, .233/.303/.412). He was better in the first half of last year too.
Gausman by month:
- April: 6 starts, 2-2, 2.33. Batters hit .225/.255/.347,4 home runs, 6 walks and 54 strikeouts.
- May: 5 starts, 1-1, 3.94. Batters hit .244/.304/.348, 3 home runs, 10 walks and 35 strikeouts.
- June: 6 starts, 4-1, 2.97. Batters hit .231/.295/.373, 3 home runs, 10 walks and 50 strikeouts.
- July: 4 starts, 1-1, 3.52. Batters hit .230/.280/.483, 5 home runs, 6 walks and 32 strikeouts.
- August: 5 starts, 2-3, 4.23. Batters hit .279/.331/.414, 2 home runs, 8 walks and 31 strikeouts.
- September: 5 starts, 2-1, 2.43. Batters hit .189/.289/.340, 3 home runs, 15 walks and 35 strikeouts.
A pretty consistent season.
The Jays were 16-15 in his starts. The offense averaged 3.42 runs per start in his game. They scored 3 or less 16 times and 2 or less 11 times.
Days of rest:
- 4 days, 12 games: 5.21, .273/.349/.443.
- 5 days, 15 games: 1.50, .194/.243/.291.
- 6 or more days, 4 games: 4.24, .260/.294/.510.
He was really helped out by the extra rest.
Times through the order:
- 1st: Batters hit .232/.306/.388.
- 2nd: Batters hit .216/.262/367.
- 3rd: Batters hit .261/.318/.389.
- And he faced 7 batters in the fourth time, giving up 1 double.
- Kirk: 16 games: 3.18, .217/.285/.392.
- Jansen: 12 games: 3.12, .239/.281/.359.
- Heinemann: 3 games: 3.24, .297/.366/.391.
Kevin’s best start, by GameScore, was an 83, September 9th, vs. the Royals. He went 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned, 1 walk and 10 strikeouts.
Worst start, an 11, May 4th, vs. the Red Sox. 3.1 innings, 10 hits, 8 earned, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts.
He averaged 6.0 innings per start.
Before the season, we asked:
- “If the over/under for Gausman’s innings pitched is 180, I’d take the”....64% were right taking the over.
- “If the over/under on Gausman’s ERA is 3.45, I’d take the”....72% were right taking the under.
- “The starting pitcher who pitches the most innings for the Jays in 2023 will be”....the majority (66%) picked Alek Manoah. Oh well, we can’t get them all right.
The team didn’t seem to want to score for Kevin. I guess some things are the luck of the draw. I wonder how often he thought about grabbing a bat and taking a swing himself. It works for Ohtani.
It amazes me that he can perform so well as a two-pitch pitcher. He threw the four-seam fastball 50.8% of the time (averaging 94.7 mph) and the split-finger fastball 38.4% (averaging 86.4 mph, a tick up from last year’s 85.2). And he did mix in a slider 10.7% of the time (slightly less than last year’s 14.3%).
His walk rate took a jump late in the season. Maybe he was tiring a bit.
Last year, he didn’t give up a walk until his sixth start, and he didn’t give up a home run until his eighth start. This year wasn’t quite the same. He gave up a walk in his first start (but didn’t give up more than two in a game until his 11th start). His first home run against was in the third start.
He was all over the league leaderboards:
- Strikeouts: 1st.
- ERA: 4th.
- Innings Pitched: 10th.
- FIP: 2nd.
- Strikeout rate: 1st, 31.1%.
His career strikeout number is now 1,603, 190th on the all-time list and 18th among active pitchers.
We were hoping for a better start in the Wild Card game. I guess you can’t have everything you want. We have him for three more seasons. Hopefully, he’ll get more playoff starts. And some wins.
For his 2023 season I’d give Kevin Gausman an
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