After an up-and-down four-inning debut, then a real stinker against the Padres, Arizona’s prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer was in dire need of a positive outing in his third start heading into the All-Star break. With the Diamondbacks hoping to push for a Wild Card berth, and with Bauer on top of many pitching prospect lists, he has a lot of eyes on him to deliver a solid rookie season.
Having a strong year ERA wise in AAA (2.82), Bauer was having continual issues with his command yielding a 1.43 WHIP and a 4.43 walk rate through 44.2 innings.
So what kind of second half should we expect from Bauer? Surely owned in most keeper and dynasty leagues, is Bauer trustworthy enough to make an impact in 10-team mixed redraft leagues? I decided to watch Bauer’s outing against the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon (admittedly, the first time I’ve ever seen Bauer pitch) to see how he’s looking.
First Inning: Bauer’s first pitch is a 92-MPH fastball low and inside to leadoff hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. He stays with the fastball for a strike, then a ball, then goes to a change-up that is grounded to first, one away. Bauer again starts with a fastball low to Mark Ellis, then gets a called strike on an inside slider, 1-1. After losing another one low, Bauer throws a fastball down the middle that Ellis skies to center for a routine fly out. That was a pitch that looked very hittable. Bauer gets ahead for the first time with a fastball across the letters to Bobby Abreu, 0-1. After a ball, then a strike taken, the 1-2 pitch is Bauer’s first curveball that explodes into the dirt at 78-MPH, 2-2. The next pitch is a change-up that moves perfectly from the lower half of the zone to just under it getting Abreu swinging. Seeing that curveball explode then going to that power change-up as opposed to the straight 4-seamer is a nice usage of his repertoire.
Second Inning: Bauer picks up two runs of support, and opens the second with a fastball, low, 1-0 to Juan Rivera. The target was in the strike zone there, and Bauer missed by at least a foot. Not showing the best of command right now. The 1-0 is a cutter that drops low, then he gets a called strike on the inner half, 2-1. After one if fouled off, Bauer misses a shade low, 3-2. The next pitch is then roped down the third base line for a leadoff double by Rivera. Bauer then gets the first pitch in for strike one to Jerry Hairston, Jr. He tries to throw the curve in for a strike, but it stays high, 1-1. Bauer again goes with the curveball, getting Hairston to ground out weakly to second, one down but the runner advances. Big early test for Bauer who starts Elian Herrera with a fastball for a called strike with a runner on third and one out. Bauer has gotten first-pitch strikes on three of the six batters he’s faced, and every single one has seen a first-pitch fastball. Bauer’s next pitch is in the dirt, then one sails way outside, 2-1. Herrera fouls the next one off, then again fouls off a very nice curveball that would’ve struck out a lot of batters. The next one is flared to third for an out, keeping the runner at third. Big out for Bauer. Bauer tries to get the curveball over for strike one to Luis Cruz, but it hangs high, 1-0. Bauer goes back to the heater, but it’s called a ball, 2-0. Bauer gets a good curveball over that is dribbled foul, then launches a fastball way too high, 3-1. Bauer is a little wild right now. After a fastball swung at and missed, the payoff pitch is a curveball that bounces at 58 feet, walking him. You’ve got to get something closer to the zone there as Bauer concedes his first walk. Runners at first and second with Matt Treanor up. This time Bauer gets the curve over for strike one, and again gets it over, taken for strike two. Bauer goes right back to his fastball and gears it up to 95-MPH for a called strike three. Catcher Miguel Montero was calling for it high and it hit the lower outside edge… Bauer gets the K but he really missed his spot.
Third Inning: On the very first pitch of the third, Bauer’s fastball down the middle is roped by opposing pitcher Chris Capuano for a leadoff double. Man, Capuano has a nice swing, but regardless, Bauer needs to throw a better first pitch. Bauer gets Gwynn to foul the first one off, then the next one is flared the opposite way, but flies about five feet foul, 0-2. Bauer sails a fastball, then goes with a curveball that stays high, 2-2. Gwynn fouls off a solid cutter, then another fastball is high, full count. Tough battle for Bauer trying to get the first out. Gwynn pulls another one foul then he spoils a good fastball foul, fouls another fastball back, then finally flies out weakly to left on the 11th pitch of the at bat. Even though Capuano is no threat at second, I really like Bauer’s delivery from the stretch; it’s very compact and quick and he should be able to manage base runners well. He starts Ellis with a curve in there for a strike; if Bauer can get that pitch over consistently he’s going to be a very good pitcher. The second pitch is popped out to second. After going up 0-2 on Abreu, he gets him to ground out weakly to first on a high curveball. Bauer again works out of a slight jam.
Fourth Inning: Bauer starts with a change-up to go up 0-1 on Rivera. Bauer gets it to 1-2 and then induces a weak ground out to short, one down. Bauer again gets ahead, this time 0-2 on Hairston, and goes with the curveball. Hairston sits on it and rockets one to right, but it’s caught by Upton, two down. Bauer again goes with the fastball painting the outer edge to get up 0-1 on Herrera, and gets a perfect curveball in there on the inside edge called for strike three. Nice one, two, three inning there from Bauer.
Fifth Inning: The fifth begins with a curveball that hangs way high, 1-0 to Cruz. Bauer gets two fastballs right in there to go up 1-2; then Cruz dribbles one to third and a strong throw by Ryan Roberts gets him out, one down. Bauer again falls behind with a fastball over a foot outside, 1-0 to Treanor. Bauer still only has the one walk, but his command is still spotty. Bauer goes with a change outside, but it’s swung on, 1-1. Bauer gets it to 1-2, then throws a great curveball dipping too far low, 2-2. That was a nasty pitch. Again with the curveball, but it’s slightly high, 3-2. I think that was a strike, but the rookie doesn’t get the call. And Bauer goes with the change dropping out from under the zone, swung on and missed for his fourth strikeout. Bauer this time gets ahead 0-1, then barely misses twice and has one fouled off. The 2-2 is a curveball that Bauer loses out of his hand and it goes way high. Capuano swings through the 3-2 fastball, and it’s another three up, three down inning.
Sixth Inning: Bauer picks up three more runs of support, and is in to protect a 5-0 lead. He misses with his first two pitches to fall behind 2-0 on Gwynn, but the 2-1 change is grounded weakly to second, one down. Bauer pounds a fastball in there for strike one on Ellis, then one is fouled off his foot, 0-2. Bauer tries to climb the ladder with a fastball, but it’s way too high. Then Bauer uncorks a nasty, NASTY curveball that should’ve been a strike, but it’s called high. Man, that broke so hard and so late, that’s going to be a great pitch for Bauer in his career. After fouling the next one off, it’s the same curveball, this time down, that Ellis misses for Bauer’s sixth strikeout. Bauer misses way outside and high with a change to Abreu, 1-0, then again is outside, 2-0. The next fastball is grounded to second, and it’s another perfect inning for Bauer to end his night on.
Final Line: W 96 Pitches (60 Strikes)
2 Hits 1 Walk 0 Runs 6 Ks
Final Analysis: Retiring the last twelve batters he faced, this was a huge performance for Bauer owners hoping for a big second half. However, I am not convinced Bauer has the season many were hoping for to be a big contributor in shallow leagues.
Let’s start with the good: His curveball is nasty. He throws it in at 78 and 79-MPH, with a nice late break. Alongside his change-up that was usually around 83 and his fastballs ranging from 91-93, topping out at 95, he’s a power pitcher. The change almost works like a cutter and compliments everything well. Also, Bauer’s got a compact and quick motion out of the stretch, which should keep him from allowing too many steals.
So why am I still so concerned? The command. It’s just not consistently there yet. For every nasty curveball, there was one that hung or slipped out his hand and missed by two feet. Even on fastballs, Bauer was missing his marks by over a foot on several occasions. The statline may show his command is coming around, but I chalk it up to a horrendous Dodgers line-up without Kemp, Ethier, or even Dee Gordon, that masked Bauer’s control issues and only took one walk.
I think Trevor Bauer is going to become a very good pitcher. In keeper and dynasty leagues, he’s a great asset. But I don’t think his second half is going to be as successful as many are hoping, really limiting his value in redraft leagues. Temper your expectations and expect some nice starts here and there mixed with some really bad ones with lots of walks.