It usually takes prospect pitchers a good amount of time to get comfortable on the major league level.
That means frustration for the pitcher, and for the fans, before things start going right.
That's certainly been the case for 23-year-old Orioles prospect Kevin Gausman. There's a feeling he's going to be really good. He just hasn't shown that at the major league level. At least not until Saturday.
On Saturday, however, he mowed down the Oakland Athletics and did all of the things the fans had hoped he would do in his previous outings. He struck out six batters, he allowed just four hits and one run, and Gausman left with his first victory of the season after throwing seven solid innings:
"He's getting the opportunity," teammate Adam Jones told MLB.com.
"This game is all about confidence. It's not about necessarily about stuff. Your stuff will get you here, but your confidence.
"Now he's going to get his shot to start. I told him, `Hey, go after him. Use your stuff. You've got a good arm for a reason, so use your stuff and go after them.' "
Gausman got the opportunity this time because of an injury to Miguel Gonzalez, who was forced to the disabled list on Friday. The move wasn't about Gausman, it was about the team's need:
“It was like, ‘The club has a need, and that's why I'm coming,'“ Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the Baltimore Sun.
“It was a different atmosphere … different circumstances. I don't think it was like he felt like he was the guy that everybody was counting on to be perfect tonight, but we really needed those six or seven innings tonight.”
Gausman had one previous start in the majors this season, and it didn't go so well as he left with higher than an 11.00 ERA. In that game against the Tigers, he gave up five runs on six hits with two walks in four innings.
That's in contrast to his 2.98 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk.
In his callups last season, he had struggles as well.
He finished 3-5 with a 5.86 ERA and spent time as a reliever, starting five games but entering 20 total. In late May and early June of last season, he had a pair of outing where he gave up seven earned runs while not reaching the sixth inning.
His 102-pitch total was the most he's thrown this season in the majors or in Triple-A.
“He went to another level there and wasn't going to give in,” Showalter told the Baltimore Sun.
“I know going into the game, the most he had pitched this year was 61/3, and I think 93, 94 pitches, so I wanted to take him about 10 more.”
While Saturday doesn't guarantee anything for the future, it did show what Gausman is capable of accomplishing. If he reaches his potential, he's a front-line starter for the Orioles into the future. In that case, Saturday was just a glimpse of what we could see a lot more of in years to come.
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