Well, the Orioles certainly know how to make a splash.
Moments after they beat the Yankees 3-2 in 10 innings on Nate McLouth’s walk-off home run, news broke that the team was calling up pitching prospect Kevin Gausman from Double-A Bowie to make his major league debut Thursday in Toronto.
It’s not a surprise that Gausman is making the jump from Double-A. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette made that clear last week when he said that Double-A was the proving ground where the organization wanted to see him succeed.
But I’m not sure is many people had May 23 as the day the 22-year-old Gausman would make his big league debut.
Just last week, Duquette squashed rumors that Gausman was coming up to fill Saturday’s void – Jair Jurrjens filled that role and was optioned back to Norfolk on Tuesday – saying that Gausman was future a rotation candidate and not a present one.
So, technically, he wasn’t wrong.
I’ve made two trips to Bowie this season, and the word down there was that Gausman wasn’t necessarily expected to spend much time with the Baysox. Gausman made tremendous strides during his first big-league spring training camp, letting the organization know that he wasn’t far off from being ready to face major league hitters.
Gausman said the biggest key to him was developing his slider as a third out pitch to go along with his fastball and changeup. Along with that was getting confidence in burying the pitch in the dirt to induce swings and misses. He admitted that early in the season he was probably throwing too many pitches around the strike zone, but he made those adjustments.
So why call Gausman up now?
The Orioles took a huge hit when left-hander Wei-Yin Chen went on the disabled list with a right oblique strain. Combine that with the struggles of Opening Day starter Jason Hammel, and the Orioles need a steady arm in the rotation.
That’s not to say that Gausman will be in Baltimore for good. But it doesn’t seem like he will be the fifth pitcher to be a one-and-done Orioles starter.
Gausman’s arrival won’t affect his free-agency status, but if he remains with the Orioles for most of the next two seasons, he would likely get Super-2 arbitration-eligibility status. There’s not really a way to distinguish that for sure now, because Super-2 status is determined based on the top 22 percent of the crop of players with between two and three years of service time.
So basically, calling up Gausman now won’t affect how many years he’s guaranteed to be in an Orioles uniform, but it could affect how much they’ll have to pay him down the road.
Gausman, who was with Bowie in Akron on Tuesday, is expected to join the team in Baltimore Wednesday so he can fly with the club to Toronto. But at this point it’s unclear whether we’ll have media access to him.
The new taxi-squad rules allow a player to join the team 24 hours before he’s activated, and an official move to add Gausman won’t likely happen until before Thursday’s game.