Help me, Kevin Gausman. You're my only hope.

I refuse to believe that the Orioles won’t sign a starting pitcher offseason. It should be noted that I acknowledge my blind faith is completely inexplicable. The O’s have given me no reason to have confidence that they’ll address their biggest need, but I just can’t imagine it will completely be ignored. I mean, it can’t be, right?

Thankfully, SB Nation’s baseball insider/wonder kid Chris Cotillo has my back.

Thanks, Chris.

As the days roll by, I believe more and more that A.J. Burnett will actually walk away from the game and retire. Back in November, I didn’t think there was a chance he’d hang up his STFD t-shirt and call it quits. Burnett was straight up nasty in the second half of 2013 — whether the numbers showed it or not.

1st Half: 3.06 ERA, .205 BAA, 1.17 WHIP
2nd Half: 3.56 ERA, .251 BAA, 1.26 WHIP

Ah, but those stats can be deceiving, let’s look a little closer.

1st Half: 3.24 FIP, 2.68 K/BB, .270 BABIP, 54.9 GB%
2nd Half: 2.32 FIP, 3.81 K/BB, .340 BABIP, 58.1 GB%

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

.340 BABIP in the second half? Holy Toledo, Batman. Burnett induced more ground balls, improved his K/BB and FIP, but the BABIP sky rocketed which hurt his ERA, BAA and WHIP. In actuality, he had a better second half than first. Regardless, it looks like he’s decided to chill in Monkton this season rather than suit up.

If he is in fact finished, I have to think that the Orioles will sign Bronson Arroyo. He’ll improve their statistically lowly rotation, but isn’t as appealing of a candidate as Burnett — despite the awesome hair.

Arroyo is more of a fly ball pitcher (35.3 FB% in 2013, 24.2% for A.J.), which honestly scares the daylights out of me in Camden Yards. But he’ll likely give the O’s 200 innings because that’s what he’s done in eight of the last nine innings.

Blah. Blah. Blah. You’ve read me yammer on about all of this before.

In my never ending quest to remain optimistic about the Orioles, I began pondering about Kevin Gausman. The young righty threw 47.2 innings for the O’s in 2013, mostly in relief (5 GS).

Kevin Gausman - Baltimore Orioles SP

Gausman’s stats from a season ago don’t look pretty: 5.66 ERA (75 ERA+), 1.343 WHIP, 9.6 H/9, 2.5 BB/9.

Much like Burnett, Gausman actually performed a bit better than the numbers indicated. Also like Burnett, Gausman is a tattoo enthusiast (fun fact).

2013 Season: 3.99 FIP, 3.77 K/BB, .328 BABIP, 42.0 GB%

Of course, he performed much better in relief than as a starter.

Starter: 5.85 FIP, 3.33 K/BB, .351 BABIP, 36.7 GB%
Reliever: 2.00 FIP, 4.14 K/BB, .296 BABIP, 50.0 GB%

Again, you see some inflation in Gausman’s statistics due to the high BABIP as a starter. However, his improved K/BB and GB% helped to cut his FIP by more than half.

The projections on Gausman for 2014 are even more encouraging.

2013: 47.2 IP, 5.66 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 9.25 K/9, 2.45 BB/9
ZiPS: 147.1 IP, 4.28 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 7.85 K/9, 2.18 BB/9
Steamer: 144.0 IP, 3.97 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 7.95 K/9, 2.86 BB/9

An improved Gausman, who many project to be the Orioles future number two starter behind potential ace Dylan Bundy (I said I was trying to be optimistic, remember?), could prove to be even more influential than the starter they sign on the free agent market. That doesn’t mean they still don’t need that other guy though.

Image Credit: Au Kirk