Geeking Out Over Kevin Gausman’s Major League Debut

Kevin GausmanMaybe his final line didn’t show it (5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 89 pitches), but you could tell from his debut that Kevin Gausman is going to be something special in the big leagues. I wanted to hold off on evaluating and jumping to any conclusions until I was able to take a look at the PITCHf/x data and re-watch these 89 pitches on MLB.tv. I was so damn excited to watch the kid that any instant analysis would have just been Orioles fanboy cheerleadery junk.

I suppose the place to start is with Gausman’s velocity. According to the data from BrooksBaseball.net, Gausman maxed out his fastball at 99.45 MPH and averaged 97.26. It’s a very smooth delivery, nothing voilent. His high leg kick reminds me of Roy Halladay‘s.

He worked the four-seamer up in the zone and the Blue Jays hitters had a tough time catching up to it. I watched Matt Wieters set him up low several times and saw him miss the spot, but the heat was often too much to handle. His strikeout of Jose Bautista in the fifth inning particularly sticks out in my mind.

Kevin Gausman strikes out Jose Bautista

We heard a lot about the development of Gausman’s slider heading into his debut. In short, it has potential, but this is his first season using it as his primary breaking ball. Last night, however, it wasn’t. Gausman threw five sliders and six curveballs. His breaking pitches were thrown between 83-85 MPH and, as the scouting reports read, he wasn’t afraid to set guys up with them.

J.P. Arencibia saw a first pitch curveball for ball one in the bottom of the second and he drove a first pitch slider to left field for an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth. Gausman threw him a fastball in his third at-bat, but he drove that 369 feet for a two run homer. Wieters setup for the pitch was low and outside, it ran in on his hands about belt-high.

The fourth inning told us a lot about Gausman. He allowed a pair of doubles to Adam Lind and the aforementioned Arencibia, then a bunt single to Brett Lawrie and a bases loaded walk to Colby Rasmus. After a visit from Rick Adair, Emilio Bonifacio hit a sac fly on the fifth straight fastball he saw (after falling behind 3-0), Munenori Kawasaki popped on his second of two fastballs and Melky Cabrera lined out to center on a first pitch 95 MPH four-seamer. He relies heavily on the fastball and goes right after hitters with it.

My other takeaway from the inning was his mound presence through these struggles. I think I was more stressed watching on TV than Gausman was throwing a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded in his Major League Debut. Buster Olney tweeted it looked like Gausman has been pitching in the big leagues for years. “Completely at ease,” he wrote.

Clearly command was a concern in his first start. We watched him make up for it with a lot of velocity. Ken Rosenthal tweeted that a scout told him Gausman lost feel for his fastball after mixing in too many breaking pitches. Perhaps that was the problem or maybe it was just an off day for his control.

Either way there’s a lot to look forward to for Gausman. The changeup was moving just like we were told it would and his comfort on the mound is incredibly encouraging. I’m looking forward to Tuesday already.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

4 Comments

  1. spy

    May 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

    And now the truth,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,he appears apprehensive in his approach to the batters,,,,,,,,,,,,he only has two pitches that are effective,,,,,,,,,,,,there is not much movement on his fast ball,,,,,,,,,,,,he looks indecisive between pitches,,,,,,,,,,,This being said , I do believe he has tremendous potential but he was brought up way too early,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you can’t compare bringing him up to Manny as a position player is much easier to bring up early than a pitcher , I think the organization forgot this fact,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when he acquires an effective third pitch and gains movement on his fastball he could be a number one , until then he is just another young pitcher,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    sorry Zach , sometimes the truth hurts…………………..

  2. Pingback: DMV: RGIII Is Playing Football! | Mr. Irrelevant, a D.C. Sports Blog by the Brothers Mottram

  3. MGW

    May 24, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Hall of Famer Jim Palmer made his MLB debut at age 19, his first start at age 20. His line for his first start – 7.0 IP, 7H, 4R, 6K, 0 BB

    184 game winner Dave McNally? He was 19, also.

    Phenom Steven Strasburg? 21 at the time of his debut.

    This kid played in a big time program at LSU and seems poised, given his age, and the circumstances.

    I know whatever happened last night – whether a GREAT start or a so-so start, either way it would be over analyzed.

    I hope this kid is given a break by the fans and examined for his overall body of work…not a handful of games.

  4. Willo

    May 25, 2013 at 8:39 am

    First game stats notwithstanding, the O’s are trying to find in Kevin another Sales, Miller or Zimmerman in Gausman, a guy that steps up to be the leader. I hope that he does it but I am realistic enough to know that these guys are rare and as much potential as guys a whole lot smarter than me say that Kevin has, he is a kid playing with men a whole lot stronger and probably more baseball savvy than he. My concern is whether the guy is mentally ready to deal with the trials that probably will come. My advice is to be patient with Kevin and allow him to grow into his role whatever it winds up being. Kevin might fall short and end up not being a top of the rotation pitcher, a Strasberg vice the three phenoms previously mentioned- but is that so bad?