Me don’t like focusing so much on AL East starters for sleepers. Me do like talking like a leprechaun. Kevin Gausman is stealing me Lucky Charms! Last year, Gausman’s record was 11-12/4.68/1.49/179 in 186 2/3 IP. Here’s what I said towards the end of last year, “This year, like a case of lice, Gausman is a real head scratcher. Looking at his perfs (kids say this; think it’s short for perfumes), Gausman is having a garbage year. Velocity is there, so doubt it’s a hidden injury. The walks are way up, Ks are down, and the culprit appears to be his fastball. Went from a near-10 in pitch value on his speed ball to a negative. FS shouldn’t abbreviate fastball, it should be for ‘F**k’s sake.’ The good news is this sounds like a mechanics problem, and might’ve been fixed already. Thanks, Pep Boys! His 1st half vs. 2nd half: 5.85 ERA vs. 3.44; 7.7 K/9 vs. 9.6 K/9; 4 BB/9 vs. 3.2. Yeah, sadly enough, it’s going to be hard to avoid him in 2018 again.” And that’s me quoting me! So, what can we expect for Kevin Gausman for 2018 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Kinda mentioned it, but since I’m a mensch, I’ll say again Kevin Gausman’s 2nd half was butter. Does that mean I’ve now mensch-ioned it? Yes, it does. In the 2nd half, he was a top 20 starter-ish. Top 20-ish? Top-ish? You get the drift. In the 2nd half, he had the 16th best K/9 with a 2.8 BB/9. He had the 21st best ERA with the 23rd best xFIP. He had the 24th best fastball with the 3rd best splitter. Or spliiter, if Desiigner is reading. He averaged the 12th fastest, uh, fastball while throwing it the 12th most in the majors. Some of these factoids are neither here nor there, but I’m filling in your charcoal sketch. As we learned with the Trevor Williams sleeper, a dope fastball doesn’t make a pitcher. It’s like putting Michelle Dockery in a show. Doesn’t make it great. But if she’s laying chops with another great actor, it steps up everything. It’s like this, what is the fastball being fed off of? Gausman’s splitter has been doing that job, and it’s effective. Another pitch would really change his game though. Another pitch could take his game to the next level. So, what happened in the 2nd half last year? He added in the league’s 20th best slider. That’s right, Gausman suddenly has two dipsy and/or doodle pitches to go with his mid-90’s gas. That changes everything. Gausman stopped throwing his slider in 2016 because he lost the feel, or the feels if you’re a millennial. He has a whiff rate of 20% for his splitter. That’s elite. To give you an idea, Corey Kluber has two pitches with a 20% whiff rate. Well, Gausman’s slider in the 2nd half was a 19% whiff rate. Bee eye en gee oh. No, Gausman won’t be that good, but this confirms his 3.41 ERA in the 2nd half and why Gausman is on the precipice of being a top 20 starter. For 2018, I’ll give Kevin Gausman the projections of 13-9/3.66/1.25/201 in 198 IP with a chance for even more.