1. Overpaying Kevin Gausman Like a True No. 2
Throughout much of 2021, it looked like the 107-win San Francisco Giants had found an ace in the hole in Kevin Gausman. The sinker-balling righty rediscovered his top pick pedigree from his Baltimore days, and led San Fran with an All-Star first half.
Unfortunately, while most of us weren’t paying attention, he cratered.
It didn’t seem to matter much at first. After all, the Giants were playing at an absurd pace that never slowed down, and plowed into the playoffs as the NL West’s champion in one of the wildest division races of all time. Surely, their pitching had held up the entire time … right?
Masked by his team’s strengths, Gausman’s second half looked a lot more ordinary (4.42 ERA, 86 hits in 77.1 innings after 64 in 114.2 before the break). By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was much more like a starter running on fumes who had to be managed rather a fire-breathing option behind Logan Webb, who emerged as the bulldog San Francisco had been seeking all along. The Yankees know all about pitchers who can’t quite sustain their first-half success into the postseason. Gausman looked like a classic case of that this October; “five-and-fly” was a-ok with the Giants by the end of the road.
That’s fine. Gausman can eat regular-season innings for you. He can potentially dominate short stretches in the postseason. But he will not be a full-strength co-ace by the time the postseason rolls around, and he should not be the target of the Yankees’ additional $65 million this winter. Quite simply, he doesn’t check their empty boxes.