Without copping to being a rocket surgeon or just someone with an abnormally-sized brain, Kevin Gausman jumped off the page to me as the very first pitching sleeper, and a guy I want in every league. Always a good sign is me seeing someone’s stats, and scratching my head why they’re not being drafted higher. There’s not one thing I can find for Kevin Gausman that makes him less than an ideal sleeper. The only thing I can think of that is scaring people off, and this feels like a stretch, but maybe his 5.72 ERA from 2019. I don’t know, I’m merely guessing. People are smarter than that, though. I mean, not all people, obviously, but if you’re playing fantasy baseball, you know better than to look at ERA from a guy who bounced between the ‘pen and rotation eighteen months ago, right? I mean, I mean, I MEAN! We’re not talking about the general public here. The people who care are guys and five girls who are such fans of baseball they’re playing fantasy baseball so they most know better, right? No? Okay. Last year, Kevin Gausman’s surface area numbers are gorgeous, and make me engorged. 11.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 3.06 xFIP in 59 2/3 IP. You can put those numbers next to any pitcher in the game and you’d be hard-pressed to figure out which one is Kevin Gausman and which one is, say, Gerrit Cole. Yes, I said Gerrit Cole. Allow me to explain with Cole’s numbers: 11.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 3.38 xFIP. Such a new schooler that you spell it nu skool? Gausman had a 3.24 SIERA and Cole’s was 3.21. Trying to figure out why Gerrit Cole is being drafted in the top 5 overall in some leagues and Gausman’s going around 160? Effin’ A, me too. So, what can we expect from Kevin Gausman for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
There was so much beauty to behold on Kevin Gausman I fainted midway through this post, had Cougs put smelling salts to my nose, and continued on. That’s not to point out something I’m bragging about. Au contraire! I’m asking you to brace yourself, or place some throw pillows where you might fall to the floor. Kevin Gausman’s SwStr% was top 7 with 15.2%, about the same as Luis Castillo and, you guessed it, Gerrit Cole. Above him (and them) was deGrom, Giolito, Maeda and Bieber. Below Gausman was Scherzer, Yu and, well, everyone else, but some huge names. From the top seven in Swinging Strike rate, Gausman had the best Zone% by far. Let me give that to you again but with some common language put in. He was a top seven guy in the majors for getting guys to swing and miss at strikes, and he was the top guy from that group with hitting the strike zone. Does it get better? Not to answer, but to nod and ruminate, while sipping an espresso while your friends play bocce ball. Also, besides deGrom and Bieber, he had the lowest amount of contact made on pitches outside the strike zone. I.e., hitters have no chance. I’m not being hyperbolic, but I will bring out the douchey one word sentences. Hitters. Have. No. Chance.
Digging deeper, Gausman already had a 94 MPH fastball in 2019, but last year his velocity went up to 95.1 MPH. But honestly that’s gravy, and his turkey is so moist it doesn’t need it. He can get out any hitter with his splitter. Gausman’s splitter is 84 MPH, and just goes bye-bye when it gets to the plate. It had a .123 xBA, a .196 xSLG and a 45.7% whiff%. Average inches per break on a splitter is 1.4; Gausman’s average was 12.6. None of this is mentioning the bold-face obvious as shizz things in his favor: He’s not old; his home park is beautiful for pitching and he’s thrown 179 2/3 IP three times in his career already so innings shouldn’t be an issue. If you haven’t fainted yet, check your heart rate, because I bet you have fainted and you just haven’t even realized it. For 2021, I’ll give Kevin Gausman projections of 10-9/3.49/1.09/188 in 154 IP with a chance for more.