The Orioles finally won their first home series of the season and now head to the west coast in hopes of turning their season around. I always try to be optimistic, but the month of April has taken its toll after the team lost 20 games. My optimistic take is if the O’s can somehow creep back to .500 by the All-Star break then they will have a chance to make a run at the second Wild Card.
Davis Takes a Mental Break
It worked out perfectly for Buck Showalter to bench Chris Davis two games in a row with the team facing left-handers back to back. As Showalter pointed out, the team has tried a lot of things to get Davis back on track, but it just hasn’t worked. We all hope it happens as the organization is stuck with the first baseman for years to come. When it becomes mental, there is no way of knowing if a player will ever break out of his funk.
To make things more difficult, Pedro Alvarez is on fire and Mark Trumbo is returning. There’s no way Alvarez can be benched in favor of Davis. Does Showalter start Trumbo in right field and have Alvarez at designated hitter with Davis back at first base? This team is already horrendous defensively and using Trumbo in right field will only add to it.
I have a feeling that is the route they will go with the potential of Danny Valencia playing third base. That’s as ugly as it gets and I’m sure this is keeping Showalter up at night thinking about the putrid defense and not a lot of options to fix it.
It should be noted that Trumbo is a much better hitter when he is in the field than being used as a designated hitter so if the team does go this route, hopefully Trumbo can provide a boost offensively that will overshadow his deficiencies as a fielder.
Gausman Pitching Well
Kevin Gausman made it a point to start the season better than he has in the previous two years and thus far, he is living up to it. It looked like the same Gausman after he allowed six earned runs in his first start of the season, but the right-hander has not allowed more than three runs in his last five.
There are a few differences with Gausman this year as his fastball velocity is down almost three miles per hour compared to his career average of 95.7, and his slider percentage is at a career high of 18 percent.
Gausman has said he is throwing more two seam fastballs so that explains why his velocity is down, but he has also learned less is more and is able to control the fastball better because he isn’t throwing max velocity on every pitch.
The biggest factor is the usage of the slider as it is giving hitters another pitch to worry about, which has made his other pitches more effective. I think Gausman is still learning how to pitch with less velocity on the fastball as there have been times that hitters have put good swings on if he misses his location. Still, it’s only going to be a positive moving forward, as he is no longer just a two-pitch guy.