PiR: Kevin Gausman Turning Into the Ace the O’s Need?

Reality: Mark Trumbo is the 7th player in Orioles history to hit at least 40 home runs.

Perception: Trumbo becomes the 7th Orioles (and the 8th overall time for the team) to hit that mark. The last time it happened? 2014 when Nelson Cruz did it. Most fans know the similarities in those two players.

Cruz signed a one-year contract with the Orioles in hopes of having a good season which he could turn into a huge multi-year contract. He was able to do that with the Seattle Mariners after hitting 40 home runs for the Birds.

Trumbo is attempting to do the same thing. He was traded to the O’s with one year left on his deal, and he is going to get a huge pay day in the offseason.

Like most Orioles fans, I’d love to see the Birds re-sign Trumbo, but more than likely he will go the way of Cruz. The Orioles paid their big money to Chris Davis, who is having a nice season. And if the Orioles are going to spend big money it needs to be in locking up Manny Machado to a long-term deal. The Orioles cannot sign Trumbo, Machado, and Jonathan Schoop in the same offseason, plus look for a frontline starting pitcher. It’s too much. It won’t happen. So if Machado is the priority (and they still have time with Schoop), then Trumbo will be in another city in 2017.

Reality: Kevin Gausman pitched seven innings of shutout ball Sunday against the New York Yankees.

Perception: Gausman pitched well Sunday, scattering seven hits and striking out nine in 7.0 innings of work. His last pitch, his 108th of the day, was 99 mph.

The Orioles needed that. Friday night, Yovani Gallardo gave up seven runs on six hits in 1.1 innings. Saturday, Dylan Bundy went 4.0 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. The needed a starter to pitch well and they needed a win. They got both.

Gausman has turned a rough start around. He went seven strong innings on Sunday. In his previous start, he pitched six shutout innings. And before that he pitched 6.2 innings. In his last seven games, he has a 3.63 ERA, which has helped to lower his season ERA to below 4.00. He also has started the last two Orioles shutouts this season.

His control is better. His velocity is up. He has a goatee. All important things to being a successful starter.

Is Gausman maturing into the pitcher the Orioles drafted? If so, when you partner him with a healthy Chris Tillman and the Bundy that we have seen of late (outside Friday’s performance), that could be a strong top three of the Orioles rotation in 2017.

Reality: The Orioles signed free agent pitcher Tommy Hunter to a contract Sunday morning.

Perception: Hunter was 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 21 games this season. He had a 1.20 WHIP and 17 strike outs in 21.0 innings. He had some trouble staying healthy, but the Orioles did their homework and felt like he was healthy enough to sign.

With all the issues the O’s have had this season on the mound, this seemed like a good signing. They know exactly what they are getting with Hunter and his laidback personality will be a welcomed addition to the clubhouse. The Birds have been shuffling pitchers all around looking to solidify a bullpen, and Hunter should be able to help do just that.

Reality: Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana has cleared waivers and can be traded.

Perception: The Orioles desperately need help in the pitching department and Santana could really help. He has pitched to a 3.33 ERA this season, which includes an even more impressive 1.89 ERA in the second half of the season.

Santana is 33-years-old and is under team control for 2017 and 2018. But the team would have to fork out a considerable amount of money in order to control him: $13.5 million each season.

Now whoever trades for Santana could get the Twins to pay a portion of that salary, but there could be many teams who are interested in getting a quality starting pitcher as they hope to make the playoffs. If the Orioles truly believe they can still be a World Series contender this year, then they need to do something…and this would be a good move. And if they don’t like the money, trade for him for the rest of this season, and then try to trade to trade him away this offseason.

The Philadelphia Phillies pulled Jeremy Hellickson off of waivers meaning he cannot be traded by Wednesday’s deadline. So there really is no other option for the Orioles.

Reality: The Orioles are in 3rd place in the AL East, 3 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

Perception: The O’s are 1.0 game behind the Red Sox for the 1st Wild Card, and are 2.0 games in front of the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd and final Wild Card spot.

They have fallen quickly from best record in the America League to barely holding on to the 5th and final playoff spot. But losing nine of your last 14, 13 of your last 21, and being 12-15 in August will do that to you.

Now comes the hard part. They play three against the 1st place Blue Jays…thankfully it’s in Baltimore. Then they host the Yankees for three more. They have three against the Rays before traveling to Detroit for three and Boston for three.

This six-game homestand is important. But the next nine-game road trip is just as (if not more) important. Outside the Rays, they are all fighting for Wild Card position, but if history proves anything, the O’s will struggle with Tampa as they have other below .500 teams. It is put up or shut up time. No more excuses. Every game counts. They play in the AL East and with four of the five teams in that division within 3.5 games of a playoff spot, they can’t afford to lose.

Birdland, get to the yard and paint it orange. #IBackTheBirds

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

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