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Sunday, September 4, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: KEVIN GAUSMAN SP BALTIMORE ORIOLES

There has been another graduation among the starting pitching fraternity this season, especially over the last month of the 2016 fantasy baseball campaign.  What kind of graduation am I referring to?  The graduation of a starting pitcher from a green and unready kid to an upper-level arm that yields very good to great numbers in our fake game.  Such a scenario has now unfolded with the Baltimore Orioles' Kevin Gausman who tossed his third straight scoreless outing Saturday night in blanking the New York Yankees for six innings.  Giving up just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8, Gausman lowered his season ERA to 3.58 with a WHIP of 1.28.  Now a maturing 25-years-old, the former 2012 first rond pick (4th overall) seems to have reached a level that jived with his former status as a good prospect in the Baltimore system. 

Taking a quick trip down memory lane, Gausman was a guy who lit up the minor leagues soon after getting drafted, putting up sparkling ERA's and good K rates on the farm that got him on the fast track to the majors.  Gausman would make his debut for 47.2 innings a year later in 2013 but he quickly showed he was not ready by posting an ugly 5.66 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.  Things started to turn in 2014 as Gausman lowered his ERA to a solid 3.57 but the WHIP remained high at 1.31 as walks were a problem and of even bigger concern, the K rate plummeted to a horrid 6.99.  This was not the first round guy many were waiting for. 

2015 was another somewhat ugly campaign and a step back for Gausman as the ERA jogged back to ugly territory at 4.25 but on the bright side, the WHIP dropped to 1.23 as the walk rate dropped drastically from 3.02 in 2014 to that season's 2.32.  The seeds were now being planted for what would take place a year later.  Of course that year later is 2016 and everything is coming together now for Gausman after he came back from early season injury issues.  We already noted the ERA and WHIP but the biggest thing that has launched Gausman is the strikeouts.  After posting a much improved 8.25 K/9 in 2015, Gausman has pushed into the hallowed 9.00 range with a current 9.12 mark.  Overall Gausman has punched out 148 batters in 146 innings which is a splendid ratio and the hit rate has also shot down.  Using his fastball in conjunction with improving offspeed stuff that was a work in progress earlier in his career, opposing hitters are more off-balance than ever facing the guy.  A 2.47 BB/9 is still glowing for Gausman and really the only negative thing you can say here is that the 1.42 HR/9 has to come down more than a little.  Take that out of the equation and Gausman has been money and is pointing himself to being even more than the low-end SP 3 he is now.  It is not guaranteed of course as Gausman has wobbled in the past but right now he is pitching as well as ever and really becoming a major fantasy baseball asset at a point in the season where leagues are getting decided. 


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