Kevin Gausman

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Kevin John Gausman

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Kevin Gausman made the majors in 2013. His brother Brian Gausman played in the minors.

He was 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA as a high school sophomore, then improved to 7-2, 2.15 with 71 K in 48 IP as a junior. He made the AFLAC All-American game that year. He was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in the 2009 Junior Pan American Games to help the US win the Gold Medal. As a senior in high school, he fell to 9-2, 3.12. He was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2010 amateur draft. He did not sign and attended Louisiana State University instead.

As a college freshman, Gausman posted a 5-6, 3.51 record and was 8th in the Southeastern Conference with 86 strikeouts. He threw the first shutout by a true freshman at LSU since Brett Laxton in 1993. He was with the US college national team that summer but they did not play in any major tournaments. His sophomore year, he improved to 12-2, 2.77 with 135 whiffs in 123 2/3 IP. He led the SEC in wins (one ahead of Chris Stratton) and strikeouts (8 more than Stratton). He was picked as All-SEC, though Stratton beat him out for Pitcher of the Year. He also made both All-American first-team from both the American Baseball Coaches Association and Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America put him second-team behind Andrew Heaney, Nick Petree, Carlos Rodon and Stratton.

He was then chosen by the Baltimore Orioles with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft. The scout was Dave Jennings. He was the first pitcher selected, following position players Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Mike Zunino. He signed just before the deadline for a $4.32 million bonus and soon made his pro debut with the Aberdeen IronBirds. After not allowing an earned run in his first two games, he was promoted to the Frederick Keys. In 5 starts between the two teams, he went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings. He pitched three shutout innings in the playoffs.

As a top prospect, Gausman was invited to attend the major league spring training camp in 2013, even though he stood no chance to make the team. Some of his future teammates had read about his habit of eating powdered mini-donuts during his starts as a means of keeping up his energy level, something that dates back to his time in seventh grade and has carried all the way until now. When he showed up in camp, his teammates welcomed him with a display stand featuring 1500 of his favorite game-time snacks. OF Adam Jones was rumored to be the originator of the prank. Gausman was sent to the AA Bowie BaySox to start the year and made 8 starts there. His record was only 2-4, but his ERA was a solid 3.11 in 46 1/3 innings, with 49 strikeouts and only 5 walks. He was called up to the Orioles on May 23rd in order to make his big league debut (replacing Jake Arrieta on the staff), and was once again greeted with a donut feast filling his assigned locker in the clubhouse. In the game that followed, he was hit hard by the Toronto Blue Jays, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings, before giving way to Troy Patton. The hits he allowed included a home run by J.P. Arencibia; his successors on the mound were awful, though, giving up another 8 runs over the last three innings, to allow Toronto to run away with a 12-6 win that was charged to Kevin's ledger. With that start, however, he became the first player from the 2012 draft's first round to reach the majors, beating the St. Louis Cardinals' Michael Wacha by only a week. His second big league start on May 28th was another disaster, as he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings to the Washington Nationals to ring up a second loss, but he finally showed some major league stuff on June 2nd, when he gave up only 1 earned run in 7 innings against the Detroit Tigers; the O's mounted a late rally to win the game, 4-2, but reliever Brian Matusz was credited with the win. He was sent back to the minors on June 14th with the Orioles needing another reliever, with veteran Arrieta getting the call in his place. He was doing very poorly at 0-3, 7.66 in 5 starts. Opponents were hitting .333 and slugging .618. When he came back, he did better pitching in relief, but his poor first few games left him with a record of 3-5, 5.66 in 20 games.

Gausman was back in the minors at the start of the 2014 season. He made a one-off start on May 14th, but was charged with a 7-5 loss against the Detroit Tigers. On June 7th, he was back in Baltimore and won for the first time as a starter, having been 0-4, 8.16 in the role up to then. He defeated the Oakland Athletics, 6-3. He ended up going 7-7, 3.57 in 20 starts, pitching 113 1/3 innings and striking out 88. He pitched three times in relief in the postseason, giving up only 1 run on 4 hits in 8 innings while striking out 7. He began 2015 pitching out of the bullpen, but went on the disabled list in early May because of shoulder tendinitis. He made 17 starts in 25 appearances that year, ending up at 4-7, 4.25.

In 2016, he finally began to show some of the talent that made him a top draft pick a few years earlier. He pitched one of the best games of his career on September 15th with the Orioles in a three-way fight for first place in the AL East. He pitched 8 scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park to hand Rick Porcello his first home defeat of the season, 1-0, with help from Zach Britton who added a perfect 9th inning. He went 9-12, 3.61 in 30 starts that season, but did not get to pitch in the postseason as the Orioles were eliminated when they lost the Wild Card Game to the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2017, he was the Orioles' best starting pitcher as he went 11-12, 4.68 in an American League-leading 34 starts. He logged 186 2/3 innings and struck out 179 batters, all personal bests, along with his wins and starts. However, the Orioles regressed badly, finishing last in the AL East in a very disappointing season. After the season, he announced that he was switching uniform numbers from 39 to 34 in honor of fellow Colorado native Roy Halladay, who had passed away in an airplane crash that November.

The 2018 season brought more disappointment for Gausman and the Orioles, as he failed to step up into the ace role while the team had a horrendous first half. On July 31st, he was 5-8, 4.43 in 21 starts when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with injured teammate Darren O'Day in return for four prospects. The move was part of a veritable fire sale by the Orioles. He did a lot better with Atlanta, going 5-3, 2.87 in 10 starts to finish at 10-11, 3.92. He did not start a game in the postseason, only pitching a couple of innings in relief as the Braves were eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series. On May 6, 2019, he was handed a five-game suspension for throwing a pitch behind the head of pitcher Jose Urena of the Miami Marlins on May 3rd. He was immediately ejected, as bad blood had been running high between the two teams, following a game the previous year when Urena at thrown a pitch directly at Braves rookie Ronald Acuna and earned himself a suspension as a result. He went on the injured list in early June and missed more than a month. He was just 2-5, 6.21 in 13 starts at that point, but pitched very well in his first start back, on July 21st, when he limited the Washington Nationals to 1 run in 7 innings, striking out 8 and walking none. On August 5th, he was placed on waivers by the Braves and was claimed by the Cincinnati Reds; he was 3-7, 6.19 in 16 starts for Atlanta. On August 18th, he recorded the second immaculate inning of his career, joining a very exclusive club otherwise composed of only the very best pitchers in major league history. He went 0-2, 4.03 in 15 games for the Reds, with only 1 start.

In 2020 he moved to the San Francisco Giants, and it turned out to be a great decision as he was 3-3, 3.62 in 12 games (10 starts) during the shortened season. His ERA+ was 117. He then was even better in 2021 as he was 6-0 after 11 starts. He was named the National League Pitcher of the Month in May when he led all pitchers with an ERA of 0.73, along with a 5-0 record and 49 strikeouts in 37 innings. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time as he was the staff ace on a team that became the first to clinch a postseason berth in early September. On September 17th, it was his bat that made him a hero as he delivered a game-winning sacrifice fly as a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning to give the Giants a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves. The Giants were out of position players and needed someone to bat for P Camilo Doval, who had never batted in the majors, with designated runner Brandon Crawford on third base and the game on the line. "That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my entire career," he stated after the game. He finished the season at 14-6, 2.81, with 227 strikeouts in 192 innings, tying for the National League lead with 33 starts. He started Game 2 of the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 9th but gave up 4 runs in 5 1/3 innings to be charged with the 9-2 loss. He then pitched two-third of an inning in relief in the decisive Game 5, which the Giants also lost, 2-1, to end their Cinderella season.

Gausman became a free agent after the 2021 season and was high-profile one given his excellent year. On November 28, he signed a five-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays worth $110 million, making him in effect the replacement for Robbie Ray, recent winner of the Cy Young Award in the American League, but considered unlikely to re-sign with the Jays with a number of teams ready to back a truck full of money in front of his doorstep. Even without Ray, his presence was likely to give the Jays one of the strongest starting rotations in the majors in 2022, given that Hyun-Jin Ryu, José Berrios and Alek Manoah were already on board. He had an outstanding first five starts for the Jays, going 2-1, 2.27, with a K/W ratio of 41/0! He had yet to allow a home run either, putting him in very rare company: since 1903, only Cy Young had neither allowed a walk or a homer through his first five starts of a season, the great one doing so for the 1903 Boston Pilgrims. Advanced metrics indicated that his splitter was the most effective pitch in the majors that season. He finally issued his first walk in the 4th inning of his next start, on May 7th, to the free-swinging Franmil Reyes of the Cleveland Guardians, the 136th batter he had faced. He went 12-10, 3.35 in 31 starts for the Jays that year, pitching 174 2/3 innings and striking out 205 batters. He started Game 2 of the Wild Card Series at home against the Seattle Mariners on October 8th and had an 8-1 lead after completing five innings, but things started to fall apart in the 6th when he gave up 3 runs and Tim Mayza another as Seattle staged a tremendous comeback to eventually win the game, 10-9, and send the Blue Jays packing.

In 2023, Gausman had his third straight outstanding season, putting on the mantle of team ace as Alek Manoah somehow lost the ability to pitch. He continued to be both dominant and durable, leading the American League in strikeouts with 237 - the highest total of his career - while finishing at 12-9, 3.16, making 31 starts and pitching 185 innings. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time and was third in the voting for the Cy Young Award. This time, he was given the ball for Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, facing the Minnesota Twins on October 3rd, but it ended in disappointment again as he allowed 3 runs in 4 innings, giving up a pair of homers to Royce Lewis to account for all the runs, and the Jays lost the game, 3-1, on their way to another sweep. He gave his team a scare during spring training in 2024 as he was sidelined with shoulder fatigue and it looked almost certain that he would start the year on the injured list. However, he pitched in Toronto's final Grapefruit League game on March 25th and was his old dominant self, alleviating concerns that he would not be ready even if the Opening Day start, which should have been his by rights, went to José Berríos.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time All-Star (2021 & 2023)
  • AL Strikeouts Leader (2023)
  • 200 Strikeouts Season: 3 (2021-2023)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas Harrigan: "The lowdown on FA righty Kevin Gausman",, November 27, 2021. [1]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Blue Jays land Gausman for 5 years (source)",, November 28, 2021 [2]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Gausman pitching at Cy Young level, literally",, May 1, 2022. [3]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Gausman dazzles in spring finale, appears ready for start of season", March 25, 2024. [4]

Related Sites and Sources[edit]