Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 47: Trevor Bauer
Bob Toth | On 17, Feb 2016
As Did The Tribe Win Last Night helps fans count down the days until the Indians retake the field in an official Major League game, we look back at some of the players who wore the Cleveland jersey with pride.
Countdown to Opening Day – 47 days
It was a strange season for Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer in 2015.
It was the first time in his five-year professional career that he got to spend an entire season at the Major League level. He pitched in 31 games and logged the most innings of his MLB career. He reduced the number of hits he surrendered over the season and base runners in general for the year and even kicked his strikeout rate up a notch while setting a new career high with 170 whiffs over the season.
Yet in September, with the team still in contention for an outside shot at one of the American League Wild Card spots, he lost his place in the starting rotation and made his first professional relief appearance of his career.
Like so many of the starters in the Indians rotation, there are nights on the mound that Bauer looks capable of throwing a no-hitter. He showed it in his first outing of the 2015 season when he blanked the Houston Astros over six innings, striking out what would be an MLB career-high eleven batters on the way to his first of eleven wins on the year. But he also threw 111 pitches and less than 60% of them for strikes on the way to walking five batters and getting an early exit in a pursuit of history.
It was that kind of season for Bauer.
He struck out ten against the St. Louis Cardinals in May in seven and one-third innings in a no-decision. He struck out ten against the Seattle Mariners at the end of the month, and got hit with the loss after allowing just two runs. He struck out nine against the Chicago White Sox in July, but allowed six runs on three home runs in six innings for the loss.
He was the pitcher of record in an impressive 13 consecutive starts from mid-May through the end of July, posting a 6-7 record in that stretch. He would win no more than two consecutive decisions at any point throughout the year, but lost no more than three in a row.
It all added up to an 11-12 season with a complete game (loss), a 4.55 ERA, and a 1.31 WHIP. His strikeout totals were a career-best, but his career-high 79 walks were the top mark in the AL. All but one run allowed on the year was earned and his 23 homers allowed were tied for the top mark on the staff (Danny Salazar).
His splits were fairly even across the board, except in the walk category. He allowed a .239 average to right-handed batters with 90 strikeouts, 32 walks, and eleven homers allowed over 367 plate appearances. Left-handed hitters batted .225 with 80 strikeouts, 47 walks, and 12 homers over 377 trips to the batter’s box. Both batting averages allowed were steady improvements for Bauer against the competition.
He started the season strong with a .174 average allowed and 28 strikeouts in 99 plate appearances while earning a 2-0 record in four April starts before settling in to average around 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings over the course of the rest of the year. His July featured his best strikeout-to-walk rate of 5.33 (32 Ks versus six walks) and a month low WHIP of 0.99, but he also allowed eight of his 23 homers during the month when he may have been much more aggressively attacking the zone but was punished by mistakes while getting away from nibbling.
Eighteen of his 30 starts ended in a quality outing. He had an 11-3 record when reaching the parameters of the statistic but eight other times he was unable to complete five full innings on the mound and was dealt losses in seven of the eight starts.
His bullpen appearance in September raised some intrigue by some about whether or not Bauer would remain a starter for the Indians long term, but it is hard to envision the cerebral right-hander being particularly comfortable in such a role moving forward. Unlike pitchers in recent history who have transitioned into a relief role in the organization, Bauer has an extensive and established arsenal of pitches that he relies upon. His pregame warmup routine would not be feasible in such a role that requires pitchers to get warm quickly when a ball game may be taking a bad turn in the wrong direction.
Simply, he is worth far more to the Indians as a starting pitcher than as a reliever.
He has once again worked this offseason with Driveline Baseball, continuing to fine tune his baseball craft that he treats as more of a science than a game. He takes the game seriously (some have said almost too seriously), but it shows a passion and intention on improving his skill set each and every year.
Now 25, he has shown that he is capable of being a game-changer on the mound and the Indians will need him to be the talent worthy of his third overall pick in 2011 by Arizona in order to make a push in the tough and talented AL Central this season.
Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer