Gausman places third for AL Cy Young Award

November 16th, 2023

TORONTO -- finished third in American League Cy Young Award voting behind unanimous winner Gerrit Cole, capping his second dominant season with the Blue Jays.

Gausman led the AL in strikeouts (237) in 2023, posting a 3.16 ERA over 185 innings while leading one of baseball’s best rotations. The 32-year-old received seven second-place votes and was joined by teammate Chris Bassitt, who received a third-place vote and finished 10th overall. Sonny Gray of the Twins finished second.

This continues a run of podium finishes for Blue Jays pitchers, including Alek Manoah (third in 2022), Robbie Ray (’21 winner) and Hyun Jin Ryu (third in ’20). Gausman received just one vote a year ago despite pitching very well in a season that featured some “funky” numbers, as he put it.

In 2022, Gausman’s .363 opponent batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was the second worst for a pitcher in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). It wasn’t just bad luck; it was historically bad. A level of natural correction here helped Gausman in ’23, but make no mistake, he’s a true ace.

Well, one of them, at least. 

“I felt like me, Bassitt, [José] Berríos and [Yusei] Kikuchi all fed off of each other,” Gausman said. “Our running joke was that whoever was pitching that day, they were the ace.”

Gausman’s career arc is remarkable at this point. The former fourth overall Draft pick came up as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, a self-described “hot-head” at the time who was expected to be the face of the Orioles’ rotation for a decade. Gausman was good at times in Baltimore, but never great, which led to an eventual trade to Atlanta in 2018. A year later, he was designated for assignment.

Instead of just hanging on, Gausman has launched a career resurgence on the back of his trademark splitter, a pitch that continues to baffle even baseball’s most seasoned hitters. He recorded 127 strikeouts with his splitter in 2023, the second most on a single pitch in MLB behind only Spencer Strider's slider.

The road traveled still lives with Gausman. You won’t find a more laid-back, approachable ace in baseball, because he knows what success looks like from the top of the mountain and the bottom.

“Everybody is going to go through ups and downs,” Gausman said recently on MLB Network. "I’m a prime example of that. I’ve been DFA’d before. I’ve been the best pitcher on the best team in baseball, I’ve been the worst pitcher on the worst team in baseball and I’ve been everything in between. It helps to be able to talk to guys, and I think they can relate to me a little bit more than most of the aces or the ones and twos on teams who never went through that.”

There are still three years left on the five-year, $110 million deal Gausman signed with Toronto, which should be music to the ears of Blue Jays fans. That’s already looking like one of the best contracts in Blue Jays history, and with Gausman’s unique combination of talent and poise, it should only get better from here.