Kevin Gausman showed positive and negative signs Monday afternoon. Gaus threw a career-high 7.1 innings, gave up five runs and seemed to continually fall behind hitters.
Now comes the burning question: come October, who should be in the Orioles playoff rotation? Certainly Chris Tillman starts game one, as the Birds proverbial ace. Aside from a few bad outings, Tillman is consistently giving the the club a chance to win, posting an 11-5 record with a 3.36 ERA.
But who comes after Tilly? You could make the remaining that the starters in the rotation have all pitched well enough to earn a playoff start. Wei-Yen Chen leads the team in wins, while Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman have pitched fantastic at times.
It were up to me, I would send Gausman to the bullpen for the postseason. In 2013, he posted a 3.56 ERA, striking out 29 over 23 innings in relief. If the O’s need a few innings from their pen, Gausman could come in and use his high-90s fastball to produce outs in high leverage situations, where he seems to have excelled for the majority of the year.
With Gausman’s move, that would leave a rotation of Tillman, Norris/Chen (dependent on match ups), and Gonzalez.
Over the past two years, Chris Tillman has been undoubtedly the O’s best pitcher and has the ability to get deep into ball games. Tillman was the Birds only pitcher to reach 200 innings in 2013 and is on pace to reach that mark again. With the ability to take the club into to the seventh inning, the combination of Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton leaves O’s fans feeling comfortable about the remaining innings.
To me, Norris and Chen are a toss up for the number two spot in the postseason rotation. Both are equally deserving, but Buck Showalter‘s decision should be made on based on match ups against the opponent. Obviously, Chen would go if a team is weak against lefties, and vice versa for Norris and righties. This season Chen has only given up three homers to left handed hitters, because he has a higher ground ball percentage, at 56.5%. Norris has held right-handers to a .245 AVG.
Gonzalez at times this year has been stellar, so he earns my last playoff rotation spot. Don’t forget, Gonzo was a member of the 2012 rotation and brings playoff experience.
So what do you think? If you were Buck, how would you set up the rotation in October?