Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 47 – Trevor Bauer
Bob Toth | On 10, Feb 2018
While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 47 days
With 47 days until the Indians begin the 2018 season at Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners, baseball awaits the results of the arbitration hearing for Cleveland’s current number 47, Trevor Bauer.
The right-hander, coming off of a career year, was not able to come to an agreement with the Indians on a salary figure for the coming season when the two sides exchanged figures in January. Cleveland offered $5.3 million, while Bauer’s camp was looking for something in the range of $6.52 million. The arbitration hearing is one of just a handful for the Indians’ organization over the last few decades, with the most recent ones coming in 2014 (Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin). The Indians have not lost an arbitration hearing since 1991, when they split a pair of cases with pitcher Greg Swindell and infielder Jerry Browne.
Last season, Bauer made $3.55 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Bauer’s arbitration hearing took place on Thursday, but the outcome has not been made public to avoid having the results influence pending hearings for other pitchers of similar age in similar circumstances, something that is unusual in the quick-news world where information leaks from all comers.
The 27-year-old wrapped up a strong showing in 2017 by firmly establishing himself as one of the Tribe’s best starting pitchers. He made 32 appearances and a career-high 31 starts, posting a 17-9 record with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. His hit rate was up, but his strikeout rate was an even 10.0 per nine innings, the top mark of his six-year career. The former third overall pick of the 2011 draft fell just four Ks short of hitting the 200-strikeout mark with his personal-best total, doing so in 176 1/3 innings.
The strong performance, coupled with a depleted starting staff, led to Bauer making two starts in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees in his second straight season of regular postseason work. He did not allow an earned run to the Yankees, but split his two decisions with one win and one loss as he was charged with four unearned runs in the postseason in eight and one-third innings of work. He gave up eight runs in the previous postseason over five games and 13 2/3 innings.
It did not take long for Bauer to debut after being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2011 draft. He took center stage on a big league diamond for the first time on June 28, 2012, against the Atlanta Braves, less than one year after being selected by the D’Backs. He made four starts for the club that season, going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP before the team surprisingly moved on from him, shipping him to Cleveland with reliever Bryan Shaw in December of 2012 as part of a three-team trade with the Cincinnati Reds that included former Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and current Yankees All-Star shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Bauer worked in four games for Cleveland in 2013, going 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP. He spent the rest of that season in Columbus, working for the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate there.
Bauer was back in Columbus to start 2014, outside of a spot start in April, but he rejoined the Indians in the middle of May and remained with the club the rest of the year. He finished the season 5-8 with a 4.18 ERA, still the best average of his career, in his 26 starts.
He earned a spot in the Indians rotation in 2015, but results tapered over the course of the season and he briefly wound up in the bullpen in September. He reached double digit wins for the first time in his career with eleven, but command issues led to an MLB-high 79 walks on the year. The struggles carried over some into the following spring and he began 2016 in the bullpen, but by the end of April (after an injury to Carlos Carrasco and the ineffectiveness of Cody Anderson), Bauer was back in the rotation.
He would remain there the rest of the year with some mixed results. He put up an impressive 3-0 record in six June starts with a 2.01 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP as one of the best pitchers in the game, but his numbers spiked some in the second half. He would be thrust into a significant role for the postseason, due to the losses of Carrasco and Danny Salazar from the Tribe’s rotation, and he would have had an even bigger role had it not been for an accident cleaning his drone prior to the start of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Regardless of what his salary figure is determined to be for 2018, Bauer will slot into the middle of the Indians’ rotation with high expectations while building off of his best single season performance to date. He came into his own and became one of the better pitchers in the league last year and the Indians will benefit greatly from similar or further improved results in the years ahead.
Other notable Indians to wear 47 in Cleveland history (32 players in total): Jack Conway (the first to wear it in franchise history in 1941), Red Embree (1942) Ed Farmer (1971-73), Fred Beene (1974-75), Jesse Orosco (1989-91), Scott Scudder (1992-93), Jack Morris (1994), Joe Roa (1995-96), Ron Villone (1998), Tim Drew (2000-01), Scott Sauerbeck (2005-06), Joe Borowski (2007-08), Jeremy Sowers (2008), Shelley Duncan (2010-12), Bryan Shaw (2013)
Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images