Kevin Gausman allowed just one run over 5 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high seven batters yesterday in a start against the Red Sox, but the Orioles announced this afternoon that he has been optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. While it’s a little strange on the surface, they have done it with an eye on his workload.
Gausman has already logged 78 2/3 innings this season between the majors and the minors. The 23-year-old right-hander threw 129 2/3 innings last year, so a big jump could put him at risk for being shut down in September. Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com that today’s decision will allow Gausman to pitch the rest of the year without an innings limit.
“Instead of knee-jerking with it yesterday, we decided to think about it a little bit because we had a day to play with. His last day down there if we wanted to bring him back would be the last day of the All-Star break. So this allows us, if and when he comes back, to use him for the rest of the year according to how the opposition lets him go in the game. That, and we needed a relief pitcher (today). We needed an arm in the bullpen.
“You just don’t want to have it jump up on us the middle of September or something and not be able to us him.”
Gausman owns a 3.51 ERA and 24/13 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings over six starts with the Orioles this season and has allowed one earned run or less in four of them. He could make a major impact during the second half if the Orioles take the reins off him.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.