The Braves made a splash at the deadline to acquire Kevin Gausman from Baltimore in exchange for four prospects and international slot money. He’s under team control through 2020 via arbitration so we should probably get acquainted with the Colorado native.
Gausman, 27, pitched collegiately at LSU and starred in the SEC before being taken 4th overall by the Orioles in 2012.
He was pushed quickly through the minor league ranks — some Baltimore fans would tell you he was rushed to the big leagues — going from low-A to the majors within a year of being drafted.
Baltimore has a history of poor pitcher development; you might’ve heard about Jake Arrieta’s turnaround when he left for Chicago and became one of the best pitchers in baseball for a three-year period.
As for the trade itself, it was widely-liked by most in the industry with ESPN’s Keith Law saying Gausman “could blossom for the Braves” while others felt the low prospect cost was a real benefit for Atlanta as the club comes out of its rebuild.
“I love this acquisition for Atlanta as a buy-low opportunity, and a chance to take a guy who’s healthy with mountains of untapped potential on the mound to see if a change of scenery and a new pitching coach can extract more value from him,” wrote Law.
Gausman is listed at 6’3 and 190lbs. He owns a career 4.22 ERA, 4.16 FIP (3.93 xFIP, which is notable considering the homer-hitting paradise that is Camden Yards), with strong strikeout (21.4 K%) and walk (7.1 BB%) numbers while pitching in the daunting AL East.
He throws a mid-90s fastball, low-80s slider, a splitter and will rarely work in a changeup. It will be interesting to see how the Atlanta alters his approach on the mound.
The theme of Gausman’s career to date has been inconsistency, and 2017 was perhaps the greatest reflection of that. FanGraphs detailed his very bad first half and then very good second half. I don’t want to say his career path has followed that of Julio Teheran’s because Gausman has better stuff and better peripherals than Julio does, but he’s been that kind of inconsistent on the mound.
Here’s hoping the Braves’ coaching and development staff — which includes former Orioles pitching coaches Dom Chiti and Dave Wallace — can get him on the right path. The Braves picked an opportune time to buy low on him.
I liked the trade at the time, and after digging a little deeper into Gausman, I like the trade even more. Give him time; he may not be the “ace” that many were hoping for, but he has the stuff and pedigree to be a frontline starter in the National League.