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Gausman focused on command, finding rhythm

March 13, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Kevin Gausman is out of rhythm right now. He knows it. But there is still time for the right-handed Braves starter to put things together before the beginning of the season. Gausman, slowed by shoulder discomfort in the early part of camp, faced only six

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Kevin Gausman is out of rhythm right now. He knows it. But there is still time for the right-handed Braves starter to put things together before the beginning of the season.

Gausman, slowed by shoulder discomfort in the early part of camp, faced only six batters and did not make it out of the first inning in the Braves’ 8-4 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday.

He settled down after allowing a leadoff walk to Adam Eaton and back-to-back homers to Trea Turner and Juan Soto. He should have gotten out of the inning, but a throwing error extended his first-inning pitch count, and though he struck out the final batter he faced for the second out, it was just too many pitches for Gausman to continue. He threw 29 in the frame, 15 for strikes.

“I felt like I got in a groove, but it was just a little too late,” said Gausman, who gave up four hits and three runs over 1 1/3 innings on March 8 against the Phillies in his only other spring start. “I did a pretty good job of getting first-pitch strikes but then kind of went right back to 1-1 and 2-1 counts. When you’re not sharp and you have those days, sometimes you get yourself in trouble.”

Simply put, Gausman didn’t have command of his breaking pitch.

“It wasn’t very good, obviously,” Gausman said. “Too many pitches, that’s why I got the hook when I did, left two fastballs way too good to two good hitters.”

He finished in the bullpen, throwing an additional 25 pitches as he continues to build up towards the 2019 season.

“That’s definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to workload,” he said. “But quality of pitches wasn’t very good today.”

Gausman still isn’t throwing his split, which is one of his more effective pitches.

“I’ve really been trying to use those reps towards my changeup and breaking ball,” he said. “So that’s one thing. If I had [thrown] that, maybe it would be a little bit different. But I’ve pitched plenty of games in the big leagues having just two pitches and neither one of them being the split. So I’ve just got to be able to have better command on those days.”

Moving forward, Gausman is focusing on finding that rhythm and tempo.

“I think that’s one of the last things to come as a pitcher, that tempo of doing the same thing on every pitch,” Gausman said. “That consistency of the ball coming out of your hand like it does on every single pitch.”

Gausman was very effective in 10 starts for the Braves at the end of last season, following a July 31 trade from Baltimore. He went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA, winning four of his first five starts, with a 1.69 ERA over that span.