For this week’s Wroundtable discussion, I asked our panel whether or not they felt like Trevor Bauer had done enough to earn a permanent spot in the Tribe’s rotation, or if he should go back to Columbus. The question definitely generated some interesting answers and plenty of opinions. Needless to say, the Indians definitely have a tough decision ahead of them.Steve Kinsella: Trevor Bauer is nowhere near ready to be a reliable option every fifth day in the major leagues. The Indians know it, the opposition knows it, and most importantly Trevor Bauer knows it. The performance of Brett Myers was 100% injury related and should not be what we see when he returns to the rotation (barring setbacks). At some point during the season when Bauer has full command of the fastball he’ll get the call and we’ll never look back. Learning fastball command at the big league level is something that should never happen.
Evan Vogel: Bauer has the stuff to be a future ace but he only has 180.2 innings in the minors; however, the Indians would still be better putting him on the mound every fifth day than sending Corey Kluber out there, and, possibly, Brett Myers.
His control is still a major issue. Only 56 percent of his pitches have been strikes in the majors and he has a career WHIP in the minors of 1.28, which isn’t shutdown material. The bright spot here is that, once upon a time, a New York Mets pitching prospect had a 1.29 career WHIP in the minors and now that prospect is Matt Harvey, the apparent second coming and most dominant pitcher or this generation.
I’m not saying that Bauer is going to flip a switch like Harvey seemed to do upon reaching the majors for good last season, but the potential is there, the stuff is legit, and, being that the club is in first place, what do they have to lose by giving him several starts to prove his worth and gain a little experience and confidence? Even if he walks five or six, he isn’t giving up five or six home runs like Myers seemed to be doing.
Ed Carroll: I HEART TREVOR BAUER SO MUCH.
Kyle Downing: The only questions surrounding Trevor Bauer after his first two outings involved his command. The walks were an alarming issue, but even in those outings he managed to keep the damage to a minimum. Brett Myers, however, struggled both in spring training and to start off the season. Additionally, we all know that even the best case scenario for Myers is barely above average, while Bauer’s ceiling remains to be seen. After some good signs from the rookie in Monday’s outing, it’s clear that Bauer is a safer bet than Myers. I don’t see Kluber’s potential as ever being better than a fifth starter, and if Bauer’s the safest option I say the time is now to let him get used to the big leagues. Throw Myers into the bullpen or try to salvage a trade that’ll dump his burdensome salary; we certainly won’t miss him giving up long balls every other frame, and he has no place in a rotation that’s doing this well without him.
Nick Houghtaling: I believe that Bauer is certainly the best option for the final rotation spot. I think the team is waiting on Brett Myers to come back, but I don’t see that happening for a while and I don’t see it working out based on his past few years as a starting pitcher.
Bauer has dealt with control problems this year, but the stuff is there. He’s a smart guy, and he potential top level talent.
However, does the team truly want to call Bauer up so early? Despite his control issues, he deserves the spot. But working on his problems in the minors could be very beneficial.
I’m behind the team’s front office with this one. If they decide to call him up for good, great. If they decide the opposite, great.
Jeff Mount: I figured Bauer was ready for the rotation when he got his walks down to a decent level, ans Monday he did. One thing that hasn’t been pondered to my knowledge is whether they want to hold back on Bauer’s service time. I think he would need to be in Columbus another month for that to kick in.
Ed Carroll: I will admit, I have a bias against Brett Myers, and prior to his injury, it clouded my judgment of the player. I’ve never met him personally, and despite an awesome elaborate prank in convincing former teammate Kyle Kendrick he had been traded to Japan, I don’t care for Myers much as a human being, mostly relating to a profanity-laced shouting match with a reporter and an incident in Boston where he hit his wife (charges were dropped at her request, against the wishes of the prosecutor). But personal feelings aside, I need to judge players on a statistical level, as since I am not around the players, it’s the only fair way to analyze them. That said, it’s hard to argue for Myers to return to the rotation when he is back from the DL. I know he was pitching hurt, but we’re still talking about a guy who prior to April, hadn’t started a ML-level game since Sept. 28, 2011. He’s 32, with minimal skills that keep diminishing. The only cases for keeping Myers in the rotation would be to either justify his $7 million dollar salary (which is a foolish reason to keep starting him, as that seven million is a sunk cost anyways) or, because despite his past two starts, Trevor Bauer simply isn’t a finished product yet, and needs more work in AAA (which is a reasonable argument, but it’s an argument we probably can’t make in two or three months as Bauer doesn’t need a ton of time in the minors). Corey Kluber has been inconsistent, but other than the miserable start last week against Detroit, he has kept the Indians in the game and given them over 5 IP a start, which is about all you can ask out of your fifth starter. It sucks to lose your job because of an injury, but even if he was fully healthy, the Indians have better options to start.
Katrina Putnam: Bauer has a great arm and is going to be a huge key to the Indians’ future, but he can’t be a part of the rotation now. He needs to improve his command & mature as a player before he’s ready for a full-time job in the big leagues. While he’s an adequate starter now, letting him develop in AAA could help him become a true ace. It’s obvious in the three starts we’ve seen from Bauer so far this year that he’s improving rapidly during his time in Columbus. Why stop him now? It’s not as though Cleveland’s rotation desperately needs his help.
With his inability to throw enough strikes, the undeveloped version of Bauer isn’t really that much safer of an option than Kluber or Myers, so I would rather sacrifice a win or two now for the good of the future. The Indians would be even better served to stop interrupting his routine and calling him up for spot starts, but until Myers is back, they don’t have a lot of other options. Luckily, he seems to have handle the adjustments fairly well. Bauer will no doubt be a great asset to the team, but rushing him would be a mistake.
Merritt Rohlfing: Unlike some of my compatriots around here, Trevor Bauer doesn’t bring me to a state of rapturous joy. He’s as good a prospect as we’ve seen in a while in Cleveland, but he’s still just a prospect. It’s not like he’s been the most unhittable pitcher in history or anything, and he’s already walked 15 batters in three starts this year, similar to what he did last season to this point. If he were getting the K’s to go along with it, that would be fine, but he’s not even getting a strikeout an inning. He needs to be bolder when pitching, at the risk of a long ball now and then. Having said all that, no I don’t think he should go back to the minors, because he just destroys the competition there. It’s not a challenge, and everything I’ve read about his makeup or whatever speaks to needing a challenge, driving ever forward. He can’t be worse than Myers, at least he can throw over 90, and I like Kluber despite his struggles, he seems more malleable to Terry’s ways than Myers. Trevor needs to go through the fire to emerge as the ace we want him to be. Shoot, CC Sabathia walked 95 his first season and struck out 171 in 180 innings, and look how he turned out. So keep Bauer, for better or worse, so we can truly know what we have here.
Brian Heise: I’m tempted to say Bauer is ready, BUT… I don’t think there is any need or reason to rush his progression along faster than it needs to happen. Bauer is the future, not the present. With the arsenal of arms the team has at its disposal they should be able to find a fifth starter without having to turn to Bauer. That said, should those arms fail, especially Myers, Kluber, or possibly even David Huff, then I give my blessing for them to turn to Bauer. His growth over his three starts this season has been encouraging and while he’s not yet where we would all like him to be, the building blocks are being laid for a solid foundation. Hopefully they don’t end up rushing construction.