Orioles-Blue Jays Preview
The Baltimore Orioles have used the most starters in baseball.
Now, they're turning to one of their top prospects, and they expect it to be a long-term solution.
Kevin Gausman is set to make his major league debut Thursday night when the visiting Orioles open a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Baltimore (25-21) has used 10 starters already, two shy of its total from last year.
With Wei-Yin Chen (strained right oblique) on the disabled list, the Orioles are about to make the 22-year-old Gausman their latest starter.
The fourth overall pick out of LSU in the 2012 draft, Gausman was 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in eight starts with Double-A Bowie. The right-hander had 49 strikeouts and only five walks in 46 1-3 innings.
"He has the best stuff and the most consistent control of just about any pitcher that we have in the organization, so we thought employing his strength for our major league team was the way to go," general manager Dan Duquette said. "The future is now. He's throwing strikes with three pitches. He does that consistently. And he has excellent control."
Despite his inexperience, the Orioles are expecting Gausman to remain in the rotation, envisioning him as another Manny Machado, who has become a fixture at third since being recalled from Bowie as a 19-year-old in August.
Machado leads Baltimore with a .322 average this year.
"Obviously, it's going to be really exciting," Gausman said. "I try and not think about it too much. Just go out there and keep doing what you're doing and throw strikes."
Gausman is also trying to help the Orioles to a third straight win following a season-high six-game slide.
The offense has keyed the last two victories, connecting for three homers in each contest, including Wednesday's 6-3 win over the New York Yankees.
While Baltimore ranks among baseball's leaders with 59 home runs, the team didn't have any while taking two of three from Toronto (19-27) at home April 22-24.
The Orioles hit 13 while going 4-5 at Rogers Centre last year.
Chris Davis is a .373 hitter with seven doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and 10 runs in 15 career visits to Toronto. He enters this series coming off a 4-for-4 performance Wednesday, which included his league-leading 14th homer.
Davis, however, is 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts since 2011 versus Brandon Morrow, the Blue Jays' scheduled starter.
Toronto won for the fifth time in six home games Wednesday, rallying for a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over Tampa Bay. Jose Bautista drove in all of the Blue Jays' runs, going 4 for 4 with two homers and a 10th-inning single.
The right fielder, though, is 3 for 36 with a solo home run over his last 11 meetings with Baltimore.
Morrow (1-3, 5.16 ERA) is looking to improve on his first start since returning from back and neck soreness.
The right-hander was victimized by the long ball Saturday, as four of the five runs he allowed came on two homers over five innings in 7-2 loss at Yankee Stadium.
"I thought (Morrow) threw the ball really well, he really did," manager John Gibbons told the team's official website. "And then, of course, a couple of big home runs. But that's a good sign, he looked healthy. He shouldn't have any more thoughts about that, I don't think."
Morrow didn't get a decision in his most recent meeting with the Orioles, allowing four runs with three walks in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-5 win April 24.
He's 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA over his last two home meetings.