After years of discussion the future is now

Yesterday, Orioles skipper Buck Showalter confirmed what most us had already assumed. Kevin Gausman will be getting the nod on Opening Day to pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays. This will be Gausman’s first Opening Day start, and after speaking with Roch Kubatko yesterday, you can already sense the excitement coming from the former first-round (fourth overall) draft pick in 2012.

Gausman said, “I think I’ll be pretty amped up. It’ll probably be the hardest I’ve thrown since last year. That’s one of those things you’ve got to kind of feed off it.” This is included in Roch’s blog yesterday entitled, “A lot of things to be thankful for in my life right now”. Kevin also went on to say that he’s “very honored” to be able to get this opportunity and to start on Opening Day in front of a {probable} sold out crowd in Baltimore.

The Orioles first game of the 2017 season will see the Blue Jays countering with Marco Estrada, who holds a 4-1 lifetime record against the Orioles in ten appearances (eight starts). Through four starts last season, Estrada allowed eight earned-runs, and carried an average strikeout per nine innings rate of 10.1 (27 total). He pitched 24 innings.

The O’s have their opening series pitching rotation set as Dylan Bundy is going to be the number two starter to begin, and there won’t be an innings limit this year for the former first-round (fourth overall in 2011) draft pick out of Owasso, Oklahoma. Buck Showalter is confident that Bundy is ready to take on the work load of a full season in the starting rotation.

The Blue Jays will counter with J.A. Happ, who is 4-3 lifetime in 12 appearances (11 starts) against the O’s. Happ owns a K/9 rate of 9.4 in his career against the Orioles, the best of any American League team he has pitched against.

The future, that has been discussed between so many people, for so many days, weeks, months, and years, has finally arrived.

This same future looked very bleak when Bundy had required Tommy John surgery in 2013 to replace the ligament in his throwing elbow. Uncertainty had surrounded Bundy’s effectiveness. Pair the Tommy John surgery with different episodes of elbow soreness, latissimus strains, and shoulder calcification issues, and you have a recipe for disaster. But Bundy was determined to come back stronger than ever, and he’s recovered nicely from his injuries. He’s seemingly put them all in the past, way in the past actually, and he’s looking to build on the success from his first full season in the major-leagues where he posted a 10-6 record, and a 4.02 ERA in 36 appearances (14 starts). Dylan Bundy is set to be unleashed in 2017.

Now, back to the Opening Day starter for just a minute. Kevin Gausman has seemingly found his rhythm, and in six days, will be looking to build on that strong finish to the 2016 season. Although the LSU product has yet to taste a season with an ERA under 3.5, in the final two months of the 2016 season Gausman finished with a record of 7-4 in 12 starts, with an ERA of just 2.83. Gausman also fell victim to some bad luck outings last year when the O’s offense ran cold on him. In his first 16 starts, his 1-7 record was depictive of a pitcher who didn’t have it together, however, it was just the opposite as he pitched five or more innings in 15-out-of-16 starts, six or more innings nine times, seven or more twice, and had one eight inning outing in Baltimore against the Yankees. It was the run support that contributed to the shaky start last season, as the Orioles scored just one run in four, two runs in seven, and three runs in six of Gausman’s starts.

With Chris Tillman beginning the season on the disabled list, it’s safe to say that Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will be called upon to bolster a starting rotation that has been sub-par since 2014, and should include Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley, and possibly (in my own opinion) Gabriel Ynoa. They {Gausman and Bundy} have been proclaimed as the pitchers of the Orioles future for years to come, and if they have sustained success in 2017, there is no telling how well the starting rotation can perform, and more importantly, how well the team can perform in the long run.

I guess you could say, the future is now, and it’s looking pretty bright.

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