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Limited arsenal hurting Gausman the most

After hitters have figured out Kevin Gausman, his limited repertoire has made it impossible for him to re-adjust.

In this Orioles season that has been marred by terrible pitching, nobody has been more disappointing that Kevin Gausman. The 26-year-old former first round draft pick was supposed to take another step forward to become the Orioles stop arm, but instead, he has dropped off a cliff and has been one of their very worst.

Against the Chicago Cubs on the first night back from the All-Star break, Gausman got shelled, giving up eight runs and four homers in just three innings as the Birds fell behind 8-0. Gausman lasted only 69 pitches and his season ERA ballooned up to 6.39 with his 5-7 record. Last year, Gausman looked like he was putting everything together and had a 3.61 ERA with 172 strikeouts in 179.2 innings pitched. His 2016 season earned him the status as this year’s opening day starter. It’s been a disaster.

It happens all the time in sports. A young player appears to be figuring it all out and on his way to becoming a star before they drop off. In this case, it seems that Major League Baseball hitters weren’t exactly sure how to hit Gausman. Now, they have figured him out. What separated the great players from the not-so-great players is the ability to adjust to the other player having adjusted to them. Gausman’s issue is that as a pitcher, he does not have the repertoire of pitches needed to make his adjustment.

As most pitchers do, Gausman relies on a four-seam fastball that zips past home plate around 95 miles per hours (according to FanGraphs). After that, he relies on a slider and a splitter. His splitter, used 14.8-percent of the time (also according to FanGraphs) is around 94 mph but hasn’t had too much movement as it’s getting to the plate. Essentially, it’s just another fastball, and he’s a two-pitch pitcher. He is basically throwing his fastball eight out of 10 times and works in a slider 14.7-percent of the time. He hasn’t developed a curveball until this season, which he barely uses, and he has barely ever used a changeup throughout his career.

Pitchers can get away with just two pitches and be successful, but seeing an actual ace with only a fastball and one off-speed pitch is next to impossible. Hitters have the ability to be picky about what they swing at because they know the pitch they are looking for has to be coming soon.

And this year, Gausman is on pace to have nearly 33-percent more walks than his did last year. Already through 20 starts in 2017, Gausman has 44 walks. Last year in 30 starts he had 47 walks.

Gausman’s limited repertoire combined with diminished accuracy, it just hasn’t been his year. His strikeout rate is below eight per nine for the first time in three seasons, and all of the hitter’s numbers against him are up across the board. Unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be anything he can do about it.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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