Assuming everything goes as planned, Kevin Gausman will make his next start Tuesday at Toronto, which would set him up to potentially pitch the season finale in New York.
Gausman was considered for Sunday’s home finale against Arizona, but he was dealing with a mild intercostal issue which concerned the Orioles enough to push back his start until the upcoming week. That shouldn’t be a problem now, he says.
“I just came in a little bit sore and they wanted to get some treatment on it,” Gausman said. “After a couple days of treatment, it feels ready to go. I think it was more tightness than anything.”
Gausman threw a bullpen session Saturday afternoon and felt no twinges of discomfort.
“Two, three days of treatment and I feel fine, like nothing even happened,” Gausman said. “So just ready to go.”
Showalter is technically still choosing between Gausman and 16-game winner Chris Tillman for Tuesday’s start, with the other pitching Wednesday. But, at this point, it looks like Gausman gets that call.
“I’m thinking about him pitching on Tuesday. See how Chris’s workday goes (Sunday),” Showalter said. “Potentially, (Tillman) Wednesday. See how Kevin and him feel the day afterwards (bullpen sessions), too.”
Having Gausman start Tuesday and Tillman on Wednesday makes the most sense.
For one, Gausman has a slightly better ERA versus Toronto and at Toronto (4.15 in 11 games overall; 5.48 in seven games at Rogers Centre) than Tillman (5.61 ERA in 23 starts versus the Blue Jays overall and 7.51 ERA in 12 games at Rogers Centre).
So it’s good to kick off such a crucial series with someone who has had a little more success against the Blue Jays
Perhaps more important, by pitching Tuesday, Gausman then could pitch Sunday’s season finale against the New York Yankees, a team he has dominated in the past (5-3, 1.87 ERA in 16 games, 10 starts).
The Orioles are still in a six-man rotation, but you have to assume if Sunday’s season finale determines whether the club makes the playoffs, Gausman will be on the mound on four-days’ rest.
Tillman hasn’t been as good versus the Yankees (8-6, 4.63 ERA which includes a 6.34 ERA at Yankee Stadium). But he’s also been the club’s ace for most of the last couple years.
With Tillman pitching Wednesday, he would then be in-line to start the one-game Wild Card playoff on Tuesday, if the Orioles make it. And, though Showalter won’t say it, that’s certainly a major consideration. Tillman deserves that opportunity.
Regardless who is on the mound, the next week should be a wild ride for the Orioles.
“Yeah it’s gonna be fun. These last couple games are obviously gonna be pretty big for us,” Gausman said. “To go to Toronto, I know the environment is going to be pretty crazy. That’s sort of what we’re expecting. It seems like all of the games are really tough crowds, big crowds. And we usually play better in those games, and I know we are all looking forward to it.”