X
Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

X

Receive free daily analysis

NFL
NBA
NHL
NASCAR
CFB
MLB
MMA
PGA
ESPORTS
BETTING

Already have an account? Log In

X

Forgot Password


LINEUP RESOURCES

Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

Kevin Gausman to Blue Jays - Fantasy Baseball Impact Analysis

The Toronto Blue Jays scored the third-most runs in Major League Baseball in 2021 while leading the league in home runs by a huge margin. Despite the clear successes on offense and finishing 20 games above the .500 mark, the Jays missed the playoffs after landing fourth in their division.

The main reason this team fell short of the postseason was the strength of the American League East. Four teams in the division won more than 90 games, with the Rays eclipsing a 100-win season. The secondary reason was the starting pitching staff, which just could not do enough to quiet the brutal offenses they faced for most of the season. The Blue Jays' team ERA finished at 3.91, which placed 10th-best in the league. That's a pretty impressive number given the tough schedule those pitchers faced, but if there was any place for improvement on this team, it was the pitching staff.

Toronto took an aggressive step to improve their starting pitching staff by inking Kevin Gausman to a five-year deal worth $110 million. In this post, we'll quickly review Gausman's 2021 season and then talk in some depth about the fantasy implications of his move north of the border.

Featured Promo: Get any full-season MLB and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Team Sync platform, Premium articles, daily Matchup Rating projections, 15 lineup tools, DFS cheat sheets, Research Stations, Lineup Optimizers and much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Gausman's Career Year

Everything went right for Gausman in his first (and last) full season with the Giants. He made 33 starts (an impressive feat in itself) and posted a 2.81 ERA. That strong ERA was backed by a very strong 29% strikeout rate and an elite 6.5% walk rate. Opponents hit just .208 against him, resulting in one of the league's best WHIP marks of 1.04. Only eight pitchers in the league that made 25 or more starts posted a better ERA than Gausman, and only nine bested him in WHIP. He was a top-10 starter in the league any way you slice it.

The recipe for Gausman's success was fastball location and a devastating splitter.

Anything clearing a 30% CSW% is a great result, and you see Gausman getting there on three of his four offerings. It's not an overpowering fastball, but averaging 95 miles per hour is more than enough when you can spot it the way Gausman did. He got ahead with that pitch, mixed in some slow and breaking stuff, and really wiped hitters out with the splitter that posted one of the best swinging-strike rates in the league at 24.8%.

So we're looking at a guy that will be 31 years old (a perfectly fine age considering today's starting pitching landscape) on Opening Day coming off of a 33 start year with sparkling numbers that are backed up by a great strikeout-to-walk ratio. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Strength of Schedule Impact

I took an in-depth, and I might even say unmatched, look at 2021 strength of schedule for pitchers earlier this offseason. You can find that analysis here. I'll share again the division summaries in terms of strength of schedule for each division's pitchers.

You can see that the NL West tied for the easiest schedules faced. That division had two and a half really good offenses (the Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies in Coors), a pretty middling unit (Padres), and then 1.5 truly awful offensive teams (Diamondbacks and Rockies on the road). Since Gausman was a Giant, he didn't face the Giants, making it a pretty good division to pitch in. Here is how Gausman's innings broke down by opponent faced.

A total of 49 innings against the Padres and Dodgers is no walk-in-the-park, but you can see how many innings he ran up against some pretty anemic offenses. He threw more than 62 innings against the likes of the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Rockies, and Pirates. Getting to face those teams in 2021 was a huge boon to his statistics, and Gausman took advantage allowing just 18 earned runs in those 62.1 innings (a 2.60 ERA). To his credit, he fared just fine against the Dodgers (3.21 ERA in 14 innings) and Padres (3.09 ERA in 35 innings) as well, so this isn't a guy who got to his strong line just by exploiting weaker competition.

Getting back to the strength of schedule table, you can see that Gausman will move into what was the toughest division to pitch in last year. The average hitter that an AL East pitcher faced had a slugging percentage of .422 in 2021, far ahead of the .408 a pitcher would face in the NL West.

To get a better idea of what a Blue Jays pitcher will have to face over 162 games, let's look at the opponent breakdown for Robbie Ray last year, who spent the entire year in a Toronto uniform and threw 193.1 innings with the team.


Ray's schedule was probably harder than you'd expect, with 39 innings against the Rays and only 16 against the Orioles (you would expect these numbers to be pretty similar as they are both division opponents), but you can really see the gauntlet that these Blue Jays pitchers can be put through. The Rays did not score an overwhelming number of runs, but they are a tough team to pitch against. Then you have the Red Sox and Yankees near the top there, and those offenses are just loaded with elite hitting.

All of this is not to specifically mention the DH. Gausman made just three of his 33 starts in American League parks, meaning 91% of the time he avoided the DH. In Robbie Ray's case, he faced a lineup with a DH in it 94% of the time (making just two starts in NL parks). That doesn't make a massive difference over the long haul, but it's not insignificant either.

 

Ballpark Impact

Rogers Centre has long been one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the league. They did not play a full season there in 2021, with COVID issues forcing the Blue Jays to play the early months of the season in Florida and New York, but when all was said and done the run-factor for the Rogers Centre came in at 1.131 (courtesy of ESPN's park factors). That means that the park led to a 13% increase in runs over expectation (and this does control for the skill of the hitters that actually played in those games). The ballpark Gausman is leaving, AT&T Park, came in around the middle of the pack at 0.975, which means a 2.5% decrease in run expectation over expectation.

This is not the polar shift it would have been even a few years ago (they moved the AT&T Park fences in prior to 2021), but it is certainly a downgrade in terms of the ballpark for Gausman.

The main way this will hurt Gausman is with the home run ball. Here's a visualization that shows each ballpark's home run rate on barreled balls. In case you are unaware, a "barrel" is a classification of a batted ball that occurs when a ball is hit at or near the optimal combination in launch speed and angle. League-wide, right around 50% of barreled balls went over the fence for a home run, but here's the breakdown for each ballpark (note that I used only games in Rogers Centre for the Blue Jays)

A barreled ball had a 53.7% chance to go over the fence in Rogers Centre, while the number was lower at 46.9% in San Francisco. Again, we aren't dealing with an extreme value for either park, but there is little doubt that Toronto will be a tougher place to pitch in for Gausman in the coming years.

Gausman is not a ground-ball pitcher either (he's been under 42% on his ground-ball rate the last three seasons with a career-high mark of just 46% in 2017), making him more susceptible to dangers of this park shift.

 

Conclusion

There are two main points here, I'll summarize them each individually.

  1. Gausman is coming off of a career year at age 31. I believe this alone to be a pretty good reason to be lower than the field on him for 2022. Being 31 is not a big hindrance in today's league, and top of the SP power ranks is just chock-full of guys well into their 30s, but the fact that Gausman's best year came this late in his career does make the repeatability tougher to believe in. You are going to pay a premium price for a guy, and maybe it will work out, but more often than not the buy-high on a veteran is a negative-EV move.
  2. This is a negative move for his fantasy stock. We have to wait and see how the rest of free agency plays out, but there is nothing to show that the AL East won't be the toughest division to pitch in again in 2021. It hurts even more that Gausman is exiting one of the easiest divisions to pitch in as well. He will face a much, much tougher collection of offenses in 2022 than he did in 2021, which is another legitimate reason to downgrade him.

The field gets sharper and sharper every year, so maybe we won't see as big of a jump in Gausman's ADP now that this signing has taken place. It is never advisable to decide on a full fade of a player before you know their ADP with confidence. That said, at this point in the offseason, the smart money should be on letting someone else take their chances with Gausman.



Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy baseball app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, sleepers, prospects & more. All free!



More Fantasy Baseball Offseason Moves




LINEUP RESOURCES

Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

ROTOBALLER PLAYER NEWS

Nick Suzuki11 mins ago

Dishes Out Two Assists
Thomas Chabot20 mins ago

Delivers Three Assists In Tuesday's Win
Erik Gustafsson27 mins ago

Tallies Two Assists
Johnny Gaudreau34 mins ago

Stays Hot With 14th Goal
Sebastian Aho42 mins ago

Extends Goal Streak With Game-Winner
Andrei Svechnikov49 mins ago

Sets Up Two Goals
Drew Doughty58 mins ago

Has Historic 112th Multi-Point Game
Anze Kopitar1 hour ago

Gets Three Points Against Carolina
Evgeny Kuznetsov7 hours ago

Registers Two Points Tuesday
Trevor Van Riemsdyk8 hours ago

Trevor van Riemsdyk Tallies Two Goals Tuesday
MON8 hours ago

Rafael Harvey-Pinard Continues To Stay Hot For Montreal
Tony Gonsolin8 hours ago

Dodgers, Tony Gonsolin Agree To Two-Year Deal Tuesday
Tim Stützle9 hours ago

Tim Stutzle Leads Ottawa to Victory Tuesday
Adrian Kempe9 hours ago

Notches Two Goals In Kings Loss
Rudy Gobert10 hours ago

Remains Questionable Against Warriors
Robert Williams11 hours ago

III Listed As Questionable To Play Wednesday
Desmond Bane11 hours ago

Questionable Versus Portland
Jamal Murray11 hours ago

Set To Play Tuesday Night
Lamar Jackson14 hours ago

Likely To Be Franchise Tagged
Houston Texans14 hours ago

Texans Hire DeMeco Ryans As Head Coach
Denver Broncos14 hours ago

Broncos Acquire Sean Payton As Next Head Coach
Anthony Davis14 hours ago

Expected To Start Against Knicks
LeBron James14 hours ago

Expected To Play Tuesday
Marcus Morris14 hours ago

Sr. Remains Out With Rib Injury
Robert Covington15 hours ago

Will Play Against Chicago
Reggie Jackson15 hours ago

Will Play Tuesday
Anton Forsberg15 hours ago

Tries To Beat Montreal Again
Ben Simmons15 hours ago

Will Remain Out Wednesday
Gabe Vincent15 hours ago

Available To Play On Tuesday
Pheonix Copley15 hours ago

Looks To Stay Hot In Carolina
Daniel Gafford15 hours ago

Questionable For Wednesday
Charlie Lindgren15 hours ago

In Washington Goal Against Columbus
Joonas Korpisalo15 hours ago

Gets The Nod Tuesday
Marcus Bjork15 hours ago

Joins Blue Jackets Lineup Tuesday
Jaccob Slavin15 hours ago

Misses Another Game Tuesday
Matt Andriese16 hours ago

Dodgers Sign Matt Andriese To Minor-League Deal
Yandy Díaz16 hours ago

Rays Finalize Three-Year Extension With Yandy Diaz
Wily Peralta16 hours ago

Nationals Sign Wily Peralta To Minor-League Deal
Yairo Munoz16 hours ago

Diamondbacks Sign Yairo Munoz To Minor-League Deal
Jandel Gustave16 hours ago

Agrees To Minor-League Deal With Arizona
Adeiny Hechavarria16 hours ago

Braves Sign Adeiny Hechavarria, Among Others
A.J. Alexy16 hours ago

White Sox Claim A.J. Alexy Off Waivers From Twins
Jonathan Davis16 hours ago

Tigers Sign Jonathan Davis To Minor-League Deal
Roberto Pérez16 hours ago

Roberto Perez Signs With Giants
Jimmy Butler16 hours ago

Is Available For Tuesday Versus Cleveland
Wendell Carter17 hours ago

Jr. Is Questionable For Wednesday Against 76ers
Jason Vosler17 hours ago

Mariners Release Jason Vosler
Anthony Davis17 hours ago

Listed As Probable Against Knicks
Joe Ross17 hours ago

Giants Sign Joe Ross To Minor-League Deal
Joel Embiid17 hours ago

Tagged As Questionable Against Orlando
Francisco Alvarez17 hours ago

Not A Candidate For DH Role
Jalen Green17 hours ago

Misses Another Practice, Remains Questionable
Tyrese Haliburton17 hours ago

Hopes To Play As Early As Thursday
Kevin Porter17 hours ago

Jr. Still Without Return Date
Marcus Smart17 hours ago

Unsure If He'll Be Back Before All-Star Break
LeBron James17 hours ago

Expected To Play On Tuesday
Chad Green17 hours ago

Blue Jays Sign Chad Green
Ben Griffin17 hours ago

Set To Make AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Debut
Beau Hossler18 hours ago

Looks To Repeat Success At Pebble Beach
Kurt Kitayama18 hours ago

Searching For Form
Dexter Fowler18 hours ago

Announces Retirement
Russell Knox22 hours ago

Looks To Stay Consistent At Pebble Beach
PGA22 hours ago

Matt Fitzpatrick An Elite Fantasy Option At Pebble Beach
Adam Fugitt22 hours ago

Set For A Very Tough Test
Yusaku Kinoshita22 hours ago

Japanese Finisher Yusaku Kinoshita Set For UFC Debut
Taylor Pendrith24 hours ago

Seeking Better Fortune At Pebble Beach
Justin Lower24 hours ago

Sets Up Well For Pebble Beach
Davis Riley24 hours ago

Not On Many Radars For Pebble Beach
Matthew NeSmith24 hours ago

Trying To Turn Back Clock At Pebble Beach
Justin Rose24 hours ago

Needs To Avoid Mistakes At Pebble Beach
Nick Blankenburg1 day ago

Still Troubled By An Upper-Body Injury
Adam Boqvist1 day ago

Remains Day-To-Day
José Leclerc1 day ago

Jose Leclerc The Front-Runner For Rangers Closer Role?
Chad Pinder1 day ago

Reds Agree To Minor-League Deal With Chad Pinder
Shohei Ohtani1 day ago

Mets Expected To Make Bid On Shohei Ohtani In 2023
Zack Britton1 day ago

Angels Have "Strong Interest" In Zack Britton
Miguel Vargas2 days ago

Has A Chance To Start At Second Base
Grayson Rodriguez2 days ago

Expected To Be In Opening Day Rotation
Brock Purdy2 days ago

Will Have Surgery On Elbow
Brock Purdy2 days ago

Out Six Months With UCL Tear
Kyle Pitts2 days ago

' Rehab "On Schedule"
Tyler Boyd2 days ago

Has Two Catches On Sunday, Exits Due To Injury
Kadarius Toney3 days ago

Questionable To Return To AFC Championship Game
Kansas City Chiefs3 days ago

L'Jarius Sneed Being Evaluated For A Head Injury
Mecole Hardman3 days ago

Cleared For AFC Championship
Josh Johnson3 days ago

Won't Return To The NFC Championship
Travis Kelce3 days ago

Will Suit Up For AFC Championship
Josh Johnson3 days ago

Exits Sunday's Game Versus Philly
Brock Purdy3 days ago

Returns To NFC Championship Game
Josh Johnson3 days ago

Enters With Brock Purdy Questionable To Return
Justin Herbert3 days ago

Undergoes Shoulder Surgery
Travis Kelce3 days ago

Experiencing Tightness, Will Be Game-Time Decision
Elijah Mitchell3 days ago

Ruled Out For NFC Championship
Aaron Rodgers3 days ago

Packers Prefer To Trade Aaron Rodgers?
Tom Brady3 days ago

Dolphins Not Expected To Pursue Tom Brady
Kyler Murray3 days ago

Not Expected To Be Ready For 2023 Season

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP