In baseball, they say it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
The season, 162 games long, is a walk – not a sprint – towards the postseason and October.
So, with the summer just around the corner, let’s take a look at a handful of potential players who could play important roles down the stretch.
Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles, SP
The Orioles have built themselves into contenders through their minor league system, as Manny Machado, Jake Arrieta and others have all become fine players for the big boys.
While Dylan Bundy receives much of the attention, Gausman has already been called up and is looking like a strikeout machine.
His minor league numbers included over a strikeout per inning and a solid ERA, along with just five walks in his first 46 innings pitched.
If the Orioles are going to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, they are going to need guys like Gausman to come through.
Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins, OF
The Twins placed a lot of pressure on Aaron Hicks to start the year, inserting him into the lineup and outfield.
Hicks had a cold start to the season, but is showing signs of what made him a starter out of the gates.
He has a strong arm and plays a good centerfield, and if he can get on base, hicks has the potential to cause problems. Add in some unexpected home run power, and Minnesota could have its leadoff hitter for years to come.
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals, RP
All the Cards do is put together excellent starting rotations and deep bullpens.
Trevor Rosenthal is the latest in a long line of studs, and he might just be the best yet.
With a fastball clocked at over 100 miles per hour, and a strikeout rate that is out of this world, Rosenthal is currently locked in a setup role. However, his future is as a closer, and with the rash of injuries to St. Louis’ bullpen already this year, he is likely to be inserted there soon.
Once Rosenthal is thrust into that clutch position, expect him to become even better, as he looks like a lockdown closer.
Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians, SP
The walks are a concern, but there is no doubting the abilities of Trevor Bauer.
A former top pick, Bauer appears to be finding his form as the season progresses, and the Indians are quietly becoming a contender for not only the postseason but the World Series.
Terry Francona knows how to manage young arms, as he did it when he was guiding the Boston Red Sox to a pair of titles.
Bauer isn’t needed every fifth day yet, but he will be some the summer and the stretch run. Once he gets in more of a consistent flow, expect him to be as lights out as “24” star Jack Bauer was when it came to saving the world.