ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker felt adding a revived Kevin Gausman would be the equivalent of trading for another starting pitcher. Maybe Gausman has a chance to be a crucial deadline addition for the second year in a row.
In his first outing since June 10, Gausman logged seven one-run innings in a 7-1 win over the Nationals on Sunday. The Braves salvaged a split with the Nationals this weekend, keeping an advantage of 6-1/2 games in the National League East.
Gausman looked like the pitcher the Braves acquired last July, when he produced a sub-3.00 ERA in 10 starts down the stretch. He was confident, consistently pinpointed his fastball, generated strikeouts (eight) and didn't issue a walk.
"The biggest thing was my fastball command," Gausman said. "(Catcher Brian McCann) had a great plan back there. When I'm able to hit my spots behind in the count, it makes things a lot easier. We did a good job mixing up and down against those guys. They've had my number in the past, so it was good to go out there and give the team that tonight."
It can't be undersold how significant a development it'd be if Gausman became a serviceable starter again. The Braves need innings consumption across the next two months, with Mike Soroka and Max Fried going through their first full seasons as starters and Julio Teheran an enigma.
That's not to get too far ahead of ourselves. It was one start for Gausman, and one that disregarded his supposed revamped arsenal. Rather than implement the reinvented curveball, Gausman went back to the four-seamer well.
Of his 83 pitches, Gausman threw his four-seamer 60 times, averaging 94 mph, and his splitter and cutter the other 23 times. It was a matter of sticking with what worked. Gausman's 76% strike rate was the third best of his career when reaching seven innings.
"I threw a good amount of cutters tonight, and it was a pitch that stayed in on those lefties," he said. "I got a good amount of strikeouts on it. I wish I'd thrown more (any) curveballs, but it's probably a good thing I didn't.
"When I'm going good, I'm able to move my fastball in and out. That's one thing, if you watch the game, that's what I did a lot. Fastballs away, in, up, down. When I can do that effectively, I make it tough on the hitters."
He allowed five hits, each of which were singles. He departed with runners at the corners and none down in the eighth. Anthony Swarzak held the Nationals to a run.