by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We have long heard about the potential of Kevin Gausman, though he continues to give fantasy owners little reason to get excited about his performances. He owns a 3.70 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in the Majors in 2014, failing to show impressive strikeout stuff. Has the time come to give up on him?
Let’s ignore his success in the minor leagues for a minute, and instead focus on what he’s shown us in the Majors. Essentially he’s operated as virtually a two-pitch pitcher in 2014, occasionally showing his other pitches:
- Fourseam Fastball – 69.93%
- Sinker – 1.26%
- Slider – 6.71%
- Change – 4.34%
- Splitter – 17.76%
So he’s throwing his Fourseam fastball the majority of the time, yet opponents are hitting .279 against it. It’s interesting, and part of it could be that the secondary pitches are still a work in progress. Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 gave this scouting report prior to the season:
“He threw hard with his four-seam fastball averaging 96.69 MPH. It had decent movement but was hit hard implying that batters were picking it up very well. His 84 MPH change-up looked to be his best pitched with great sink and fade. He also threw a slider that graded out as average, but also came in at comparable speed to his change-up.”
Meanwhile Baseball America said:
“Gausman throws a lot of strikes with his fastball and now does with his changeup as well. He added a get-me-over circle change, thrown harder than his original plus split-changeup, around midseason 2013. The Orioles decided Gausman’s slider would become his primary breaking pitch, and he made strides with the pitch by showing good depth and bite, but he lacked command and consistency.”
The difference in the scouting report does open our eyes, at least a little bit. This also helps to explain the lack of strikeouts, because Major League hitters aren’t going to be fooled by a fastball, regardless of how hard it’s thrown, as much as minor leaguers are. On his fastball he owns a 5.53 Whiff Percentage and, unless the secondary stuff can develop, the strikeout rate simply may not be there in the Majors.
That’s obviously a concern, especially as his control wavers (3.58 BB/9 as compared to a minor league career mark of 2.15). Again, like with the swings and misses on the fastball, without the secondary pitches Major League hitters simply aren’t going to chase outside the zone as much. His 27.3% O-Swing% is evidence enough of that.
Now couple those two things with a 23.2% line drive rate and unimpressive 42.4% groundball rate, as well as pitching in the American League, and what do you get? A pitcher that simply doesn’t hold much appeal in redraft formats, unfortunately.
Long-term the upside is there, but he has growing and maturing that needs to be done to get there. It’s simply hard to imagine it suddenly coming together over the final few weeks.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Minor League Central, Baseball America, Prospect 361
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