Can he be a one-two punch with Hyun-jin Ryu in the second half?
Kevin Gausman, 32, Toronto Blue Jays, improved to 3-0 on the season with a 5 1/3-inning, four-hit shutout, striking out eight, walking five and giving up one earned run against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Gausman has been the poster child for bad luck this season. In 11 games this season, he has eight quality starts and only two wins. Today was his first win without a quality start. His combination of a mid-90s fastball and a splitter is potent. But for some reason, the Toronto offense couldn’t get going when he was out.
Toronto’s starting rotation hasn’t been strong this season. They are the only team this season to have kept their opening five starters through the first two months of the season. While the lack of injuries is encouraging, there hasn’t been a replacement for them from within. Jose Berrios and Alec Manoa have struggled this season, and Yusei Kikuchi hasn’t been on a good pace in May.
As a result, one of these three will likely be out of the lineup when Ryu returns after the All-Star break. For Ryu, he’ll be coming back with the added motivation of saving Toronto from a last-place finish in the American League East.
But Ryu won’t be the only one who can help Toronto fight back. Fundamentally, they need Berrios, Manoa, and Kikuchi to wake up. They also need a strong starter to pair with Ryu. At this point, Gaussman is the most likely candidate. He’s a perfect fit based on his mechanics and pitches. Chris Bassitt, who has been performing above expectations, doesn’t have a strong delivery.
Gaussman pitched well again today. In the first inning, with runners on first and second, he struck out Alex Kirillov on a 95.5-mph fastball and splitter combination. He struck out Kyle Palmer with a 95.7-96.4-96.2 mph fastball. In the second inning, he struck out Christian Vazquez on three fastballs, all around 95 mph.
He allowed runners on base in every inning after that, but maximized his use of his four-seam and splitter to overwhelm hitters. In the fifth inning, he threw five splitters against Buxton with runners on first and second for a strikeout. In the sixth inning, he gave up two walks and a double to Kyle Gallick. The splitter broke less and was driven up the middle.
Regardless, the three-run third inning gave Gaussman his third win of the season. Based on the way he’s pitched over the past two months, he’s on pace to win five or six more games. As the de facto ace, he should be able to synergize with Ryu in the second half. 안전놀이터