Trevor Bauer vs. Cliff Lee.
Tonight, it will be an anticipated matchup between the Indians’ past and future.
It will be Lee’s first trip to Cleveland since the infamous 2009 trade that sent him to the Phillies for the first time. The trade has many Indians fans frustrated in retrospect, as the haul included Carlos Carrasco (suspended again), Lou Marson (career .219 hitter on the disabled list for the second time this season), Jason Donald (traded to Cincinnati) and Jason Knapp (out of baseball).
However, after the recent overhaul this past winter, Indians fans have reason to believe they have the next Cliff Lee waiting in the wings in the form of Trevor Bauer.
Acquired from the Diamondbacks, Bauer was a highly touted prospect coming out of UCLA. It led to him being the third overall pick in the 2011 First Year Player Draft. He rocketed through the Diamondbacks system and made it to Double-A by the end of the 2011 season.
The occasional headbutt with the Diamondbacks made him expendable in their eyes, and the Indians took advantage as they turned Shin-Soo Choo’s expiring contract – as well as some other players – into the top-notch prospect.
There are plenty of differences between Lee and Bauer. Lee is a southpaw who doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, so he uses craftiness to keep hitters off balance. Bauer is a gas-throwing righty whose unconventional means of preparation have captured the attention of scouts and fans everywhere.
The biggest difference, however, is the excitement factor. Coming up through the system, Lee was never touted as much as Bauer. Lee topped out at #30 on Baseball America’s list of top prospects.
Bauer has never been that low. Entering the 2012 season, Baseball America had him as their number nine prospect. After making his debut later that season, Baseball America did drop him a few spots to #14. Despite that, Cleveland fans are still extremely excited about their 22-year-old righty.
The Indians have had a bit of trouble finding their “pitcher of the future” for some time now. The last prospect who had the kind of hype behind him that Bauer has was Adam Miller, but his career was derailed by a string of finger injuries.
Outside of Miller, it’s been a struggle to find that one future ace. Prospects like Jeremy Guthrie and Jeremy Sowers have come and gone. The Indians have tried calling up lesser-known guys with hopes that they’d find a diamond in the rough, but those players – examples include Scott Lewis and Aaron Laffey come to mind – haven’t panned out.
Other prospects like Alex White and Drew Pomeranz never even got their chance in Cleveland, being dealt before making any type of significant impact with the team one way or another.
So when Lee and Bauer face off at Progressive Field tonight, it’ll be more than a matchup of old vs. new. It’s a chance to see if Bauer can separate himself from the Adam Millers and the Jeremy Sowers of years passed.
Sure, it’s only a small sample size, but there’s no better stage for Bauer to have his Cleveland coming-out party than against a man who won a Cy Young Award wearing the Chief Wahoo patch on his shoulder.
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So, I am noticing that my fantasy leagues have Bauer slotted to start again next Monday. Not Kazmir. Not Kluber. Why am I not seeing any comment or notice of this on the Indians own site, or on Indian blogs like this one?
Because it is likely that your fantasy leagues are wrong. At this point, tonight’s start is just a spot start for Bauer. The Tribe needs an extra starter because of the doubleheader last Sunday. Bauer is the sixth starter in a five man rotation right now. With the off day tomorrow, the rest of the staff will be on regular rest moving forward. I’m not saying its impossible, but it is very unlikely that Bauer remains on the the big league roster after tonight’s game.