MLB Notebook: Rise of Kevin Gausman and We NEED an Astros-Dodgers Rematch


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The Ascension of Kevin Gausman

Jacob DeGrom has dominated the pitching discourse this year, and deservedly so, but Kevin Gausman has been that dude for the Giants this year. Gausman sits second in the NL in ERA and third in FIP. He had a stretch of nine consecutive games this season where he went at least five innings, giving up a run or less. Nine games is the second longest streak matching that criteria since 1970. It would be the best, but DeGrom had one that was longer this year.

This breakout may look like it was out of nowhere, and certainly nobody saw this, but Gausman has always had this potential. You can listen to LSU fans talk about him. You’ll hear stories that almost make Gausman out to be some mythologized figure. He was that good. He’s been trending in this direction for a few years as well.

He pretty much relies on a combination of his fastball and splitter. That splitter, it’s nasty. Hitters are hitting .101 against it and whiffing almost half the time. The pitch has a -17.9 run value. It’s not only one of the best splitters, it’s one of the best pitches period. Only Shohei Ohtani has a lower opponent batting average vs off-speed pitches.

Gausman is already 30, and only father time knows how he will age, so I’m not going to sit here and claim that he will be an ace for the next ten years, but he is one right now. Gausman bet on himself last winter when he took the one-year qualifying offer from the Giants, and it is a bet that has paid off.

Could This Finally Be the Year We Get an Astros – Dodgers World Series Rematch?

I don’t think anyone needs reminding of what happened in the 2017 World Series, or the drama that still surrounds it. Between the incredible entertainment we got in October of 2017 and the Astros cheating scandal, this is a series that people will remember for a long time.

After the Astros won that series in seven games, it was apparent that both these franchises would be contenders for the foreseeable future. It’s almost five years later now, and that remains the case. A rematch could have happened in any of the seasons since then. The Astros were one game away from it last year when they lost to the Rays in seven in the ALCS.

Full disclosure. I’m a Dodger fan. I would love nothing more than to see a rematch of these two teams. Not just because I am a Dodger fan, but because I am a baseball fan. Even before the cheating scandal happened, this was a rematch I was dying to see. We’re not even at the all-star break but as of now, I think it projects as the most likely matchup.

The Astros offense is incredible. By a lot of metrics, the gap between the Astros and the second rated offense is the same as the gap between the second and 15th rated squads.

The Dodgers need to get healthy, and the Astros need to make a move to improve their pitching, but these groups look like they could be on a collision course for October.

The Other Blue Jay with A Case For MVP 

Vlad Guerrero Jr isn’t the only Blue Jay putting together an MVP type year. Marcus Semien is as well. Semien broke out with the Athletics in 2019 before having a mediocre season in 2020. The Blue Jays took a chance on him, hoping he’d return to his 2019 levels, and man, it has paid off. Semien is the only player in baseball this year with an OPS above .800, a defensive WAR above 1.0, and a stolen base total of five or more. Semien’s actual totals are above that threshold as well. The one blemish on Semien’s record is his strikeout and walk numbers, an area he has never excelled in, but when you’re stealing bags and putting balls in seats, who cares?

I thought some of this success may be owed to the hitter friendly parks the Blue Jays have been inhabiting while they await to return to Toronto, but Semien’s slugging is nearly identical whether he’s on the road or at home. Semien likely won’t win the MVP, but he may be able to add a gold glove or silver slugger to his mantle come the fall. Better yet, he will get to sign a fat contract in the offseason.

Stats Of The Week

  • Carlos Correa and Marcus Semien are the only two players in baseball who have an offensive WAR over 2.0 and a defensive WAR over 1.0.
  • The Astros are the only team in baseball to have a OPS+ above 115 on the home and on the road.
  • 22.5% of fly balls allowed by the Blue Jays’ Robbie Ray have left the yard. Despite this, he still has a ERA+ that is 30% above average.
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