It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the Orioles have decided to bring up pitching prospect Kevin Gausman to start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday. The club has a need and there really is no need to leave any more good innings at Double-A Bowie.
Oh, I’m sure there are some naysayers out there who will trot out examples of all the pitchers who have been rushed up to the big leagues too fast, but Gausman has a smooth, safe delivery and he has already shown he’s capable of doing at least as much as some of the fill-in and fifth starters that the Orioles have brought up from Triple-A Norfolk over the past few weeks.
Frankly, I’ve never understood the logic that a young pitcher is less likely to put his arm at risk in the minor leagues. Gausman has pitched in big-game situations in the Southeast Conference, and you can bet he wasn’t holding back to preserve his arm. Innings are innings, regardless of the level of play, so he should be throwing them where they are going to count.
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It’s understandable that every team wants to be as cautious as possible with young pitchers, especially the ones they’ve spent millions to draft and develop, but it’s fairly apparent that the guys who are going to come up sore are going to no matter where they pitch. The Orioles coddled Dylan Bundy last year – holding him to two or three innings for a number of early
season starts and limiting his total innings over the full season – and he
still came up sore this year.
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is often used as the argument against rushing a young pitcher to the majors -- and his arm injury provides a cautionary tale for anyone considering a move like this -- but the Orioles need help to get through a rough patch in which their starters have been coming up short and their relievers are overworked. Gausman has made eight minor league starts this year and averaged just under six innings per start. He’s physically capable of doing that in an Orioles uniform, so why shouldn’t he come up and try.
Manager Buck Showalter isn’t some marginal guy in the last year of his contract who might be tempted to burn out the kid to save his job. He and pitching coach Rick Adair are going to handle Gausman with kid gloves, and if he can’t handle major league competition, he’ll be back in Bowie in fairly short order.
The Orioles struck gold with 20-year-old Manny Machado last year. They could use the same kind of boost right now.