Baltimore Orioles vs Oakland Athletics: 5 players to watch

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles
BALTIMORE, MD – JULY 14: Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman /

Kevin Gausman, RHP

Just over a month into the season, the Orioles starting rotation is an absolute disaster. Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman and Alex Cobb have combined for a 7.36 ERA. Dylan Bundy’s rate of 3.76 is better, but more lopsided — after a dominant start to the year, he’s given up 12 earned runs over his last two starts.

That leaves Gausman as the Birds’ only starting pitcher who should inspire any confidence, at least for now. Ignoring his rocky first start of the season, the Colorado native has put up a 2.93 ERA and a 7.3 K-rate over 30.2 innings, making him the closest thing they have to a staff ace.

Gausman made his last start on April 29, leading the Orioles to their most recent victory. He was pulled from the game after loading up the bases in the sixth inning — with his pitch count at 108, Buck Showalter wasn’t about to take any chances — but the Birds managed to escape, leaving him in line for his second win of the year.

Gausman’s scheduled Saturday start is probably Baltimore’s best opportunity to win a game this weekend. It will also serve as an important progress report on the starting rotation, so if he falters, don’t be surprised if O’s fans call for the front office to fire pitching coach Roger McDowell. Something has to go right for this group, and Gausman is the man for the job.