It’s Kevin Gausman Day at Connolly’s Tap Room.
Fake drafts for 39 cents for a limited time. A free shot if you turn in a pair of eyeglasses.
It’s a new season for the no-longer bespectacled right-hander.
He’s back after being shelved in spring training with shoulder tendinitis. Gausman was OK in the spring, allowing six baserunners and three earned runs in six innings (4.50 ERA) while striking out six before the injury.
His three minor league rehab appearances went OK, too: 12 hits, five walks, four runs and 19 strikeouts in 11 innings (3.27 ERA).
So now the 25-year-old, former first-rounder is back. It’s going to be interesting to see what he does tonight in his season debut at the Tampa Bay Rays, and how long Orioles manager Buck Showalter allows him to go if he is pitching well.
The organization kept Gausman in the minors until he could get to the 90-pitch plateau. He should be ready for at least that tonight if, as Showalter likes to say, the opponent cooperates. (Gausman is 2-3 with a 6.16 ERA in nine games and seven starts versus the Rays, and 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in six games, four starts, at Tropicana Field.)
Gausman admitted that he was a little tentative when he first came back from shoulder tendinitis last season. He made 17 starts for the Orioles in 2015 and his best one was his last one, when he struck out 10 Toronto Blue Jays and allowed just one run in eight innings.
We all know he can be dominant when everything is clicking. The big question, like it is for most pitchers, is whether he can be consistent throughout a full season.
Showalter has said that he thinks this is the year Gausman takes a big step forward. I agree, but what does that mean?
His career bests are: seven wins, 113 1/3 innings and a 3.57 ERA.
I say, realistically, if Gausman can stay healthy and win 12 games, post an ERA under 4.00 and throw 180 innings, that has to be considered a major success. I think he reaches those marks this year.
I know you may want more from a guy who was picked fourth overall in the 2012 draft, but that would be a solid season.
Is that high, low or about right for your expectations for Gausman in 2016? Spell them out for me.
Tap-In Question: What are your expectations for Kevin Gausman this season?