A recent article written by Mike Brandyberry of Did the Tribe Win Last Night made its way into the Wahoo’s on First email chain the other day and caused quite the ruckus. The article in question was about Trevor Bauer and how the 2013 season has been anything but what the Indians or Bauer expected when he was acquired from Arizona this past offseason. It was an interesting read that presented some interesting points about the young right hander and his development.
However, while most of the staff here at Wahoo’s on First is in agreement that 2013 has been anything but kind to Bauer, we feel that it is too soon to pass any kind of judgement. It’s simply too soon to throw in the towel on Bauer as a mainstay in the Indians rotation moving forward. While the stats are admittedly awful, one has to take into account what those stats mean and how they were accumulated.
Yes, Trevor Bauer has a 5.29 ERA, 1.824 WHIP, and issued 16 walks against just 11 strikeouts for the Indians this season. At Triple-A Columbus his ERA has been better, but at 4.18 it could be lower. As Mike pointed out in his article, Bauer has been struggling mightily since that fateful start in Chicago. His control appears to be shot, his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he just doesn’t look like anything resembling the top rated prospect he has been believed to be.
Here is where the distinction needs to be made. Bauer is only 22 years old. He has accelerated his way through the minor league process by dominating lesser competition and already has eight big league starts to his credit. That in and of itself is impressive. However, at what point did eight starts and 33.1 innings become an adequate enough sample size to draw a foregone conclusion? It’s easy to say Bauer has disappointed, because he has. But, to question his future and compare him to a pitcher in Ubaldo Jimenez, who was in a completely different set of circumstances and different stage of his career, seems short-sighted.
Even looking at Bauer’s Triple-A numbers, drawing solid conclusions is a bit difficult. He has made only 35 starts between Triple-A Reno for the Diamondbacks and Triple-A Columbus for the Tribe and has had varying degrees of success. He has looked spectacular at times and also like the current version we are witnessing right now. But again, he’s in his age 22 season. It’s his second, real, full season of professional baseball. He has time to figure this out.
And sure, some people will point to the ridiculous training and pregame regiments he takes part in and blame them for Bauer’s most recent struggles. I for one believe his mentality may be playing a part, but it is certainly not the lone contributor. The game is as much about performing as it is preparing. Maybe Bauer needs to stop thinking and tinkering so much. Maybe he just needs to simplify things and let the game come to him.
Is Bauer’s performance cause for concern? Absolutely. Anytime a player of Bauer’s talent level struggles so mightily with the simplest of things it can be a bit disconcerting. The fact that Bauer is attempting to reinvent his windup at this stage is a bit perplexing but it is what it is. So long as Bauer can find what has made him a top rated prospect he should be fine.
It will be interesting to see how the Indians decide to handle Bauer’s development moving forward. Will they try to force him into a box he does not fit into or will they allow him to do his thing. Will he get a September call up? I’m willing to think he will simply so Terry Francona and Mickey Callaway can get a bit of hands on training with the young right hander. After all, they worked wonders with Ubaldo Jimenez and his confidence. Why can’t they fix Bauer?