Since coming to the Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Gausman has been a great addition to the rotation. Every time he takes the mound, he always gives Toronto the chance to win games. One of the most dynamic aspects of his game has been his ability to strike batters out. On Monday against the Nationals, he reached 200 strikeouts for the third consecutive year. With the seven Nationals striking out, he now leads the league with 202 strikeouts, which is worth giving a deeper look.
Start of his Career
After turning down a chance to play in the Dodgers’ farm system, Gausman went to LSU from 2009 to 2012. Following the 2012 season, Baltimore selected Baltimore with the 4th overall pick from the 2012 draft and made it to the Big Leagues within a year. From 2013 to 2019, he was good but not great, as his best season was in 2014. With Baltimore, he had a 3.57 ERA in 113 and 1/3 innings pitched, a WHIP of 1.315, and only 88 strikeouts.
One of the best decisions in Kevin Gausman’s career was signing with the San Francisco Giants ahead of the 2020 season. Through his time with the Giants, Gausman has a better sense of command and is striking batters out more frequently. According to Baseball Savant, the most significant change in his game is the frequency of his different pitches. The right-hander has a four-seam fastball, splitter, changeup, and slider in his repertoire.
In 2019, he used his fastball and splitter roughly 95 percent of the time, leaving the changeup and slider as ones he would use in a rare situation. However, in 2020, we see his usage of the fastball and splitter go down to 78 percent. Kevin Gausman developed his changeup and slider as a Giant to complement his other two pitches. The changeup goes from 3.5 percent to 14.5 percent, and the slider goes from 1.8 percent to 6.8 percent. Even in 2023, the slider has now increased to being used to 10.9 percent of the time. He has used his slider so effectively. This is now his tertiary pitch.
The Strikeout Machine
Since signing with the Giants, Kevin Gausman has produced four of the best seasons of his career. During these four years, he is 39-27, with an ERA of 3.19, across 581 and 2/3 innings, striking out 713 batters and counting. As a result, Gausman has earned his first two all-star selections (2021 and 2023) and two top-ten finishes in the Cy Young voting (2021 and 2022). However, he will likely be in the top 10 in Cy Young voting again in 2023.
Additionally, with the pitch clock, this season has been hard for pitchers to adapt. As Kevin Gausman has not been in the minors since the pitch clock was introduced, he and many other veterans have had to adjust to the new changes. Yet, even during his 32-year-old season, he is pitching the best he has in his career. Kevin has become one of the best strikeout pitchers in the majors. Although the Blue Jays continue to fight for a wild card spot, Gausman will have to be electric for the next few starts.
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