SARASOTA, Fla. -- A year ago, Kevin Gausman wasn't even on the Opening Day roster, as the right-hander was plagued by shoulder soreness and started the season on the disabled list.This year, it will be Gausman who officially starts the Orioles' season on Monday as he was tabbed -- in
SARASOTA, Fla. -- A year ago, Kevin Gausman wasn't even on the Opening Day roster, as the right-hander was plagued by shoulder soreness and started the season on the disabled list.
This year, it will be Gausman who officially starts the Orioles' season on Monday as he was tabbed -- in the wake of injury to Chris Tillman -- to get the ball first and face the Toronto Blue Jays for the 3:05 p.m. ET home contest.
"Not so much nervous, just anxious. I know it's going to be awesome," said Gausman, who will be part of the rotation for the first time on an Opening Day roster. "I love pitching in Baltimore, so I'm happy that it's at home. Hopefully the first of many, but like I said, pretty exciting and definitely looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
Gausman getting the nod in place of the injured Tillman doesn't come as a surprise. He's had a solid spring and emerged last season as a consistent option for a rotation that often struggled to go deep into games.
"We had some options to pick from, we just thought Kevin was the best equipped in a lot of different areas," manager Buck Showalter said.
"[He's changed] a lot [the past few seasons]. He's got a feel for when to charge and when not to charge. When to slow guys down, when not to slow guys down. He's more of a complete pitcher instead of a guy who just throws 97, 98. You see him go get it when he needs it.
"He looks at a start as hopefully a long one and he uses his bullets appropriately. This guy has a good feel for the big leagues … he's learned a lot of things about how to pitch when he's not carrying his best stuff. He's a trustworthy guy now."
The 26-year-old Gausman, who made the Opening Day roster as a reliever in 2015, went 9-12 with a 3.61 ERA in 30 starts last season. He pitched to a 3.10 ERA in the second half, going 8-6 after the All-Star break. His win on the final day of the season locked down a Wild Card spot for the Orioles.
"The biggest thing I did in the second half was get deep in games, which really is all you can try to do," Gausman said. "I felt like I was more consistent like that in the second half and just kind of feel like I have hit the ground running this year so far."
The Orioles' first-round pick (fourth overall) out of Louisiana State University in 2012, Gausman is 23-31 with a 3.97 ERA in 95 games (72 starts) in parts of four Major League seasons.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.