Had the pleasure of seeing Trevor Bauer pitch for Columbus last night. The impression I came away with was that he should just stop pitching for a while. There were times last night when it looked like he was changing his mind in the middle of his windup. The fact that he can still get hitters out with his head and his mechanics a train wreck is testament to his overall talent, but I am worried that he is going to damage his arm while he is working through these problems.
The first two innings Bauer threw 42 pitches, 19 for balls. He walked three and there were only two swings and misses. On several occasions he began his motion, paused, then started over like he changed his mind about his mechanics, and at least three pitches bounced well in front of home plate. Through all of this, the Toledo hitters made no solid contact, got only one hit, and did not score.
In the next two innings Bauer threw 26 pitches, 18 for strikes, and got lit up for two home runs. It looked like he spent the first two innings trying to figure things out, then came up with a motion that got the ball over the plate, but without movement or velocity, so he got hammered. There were more swings and misses in the middle innings, but that might have been more a function of the Toledo hitters, several of whom have already struck out more than a hundred times this year.
Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports
After six innings Bauer had thrown 101 pitches, but the Clippers had nobody warming up in the bullpen. Bauer was allowed to come out for the seventh, which surprised me. He threw eleven more pitches, then was replaced.
I was sitting in the left field stands, so I was about thirty feet away from Bauer when he did his pregame warmup. He stood in the left field corner and played long toss with a guy in the right field corner. I had heard about this and figured it was just a series of long throws to loosen his arm, but he was taking two steps and flinging the ball like a contestant in Punt, Pass, and Kick. If someone with training in biomechanics can explain how this is good for a pitching arm, I would be most interested, because I think if I did this five or six times I would need surgery.
Bauer topped out at 93 with his fastball, and was seldom over 91. He did this thing before almost every pitch where he would lift his front leg about an inch, sometimes two or three times, then put it back down before beginning his actual motion. If the umpires had wanted to be jerks I think this could have been called a balk, but to me it was just one more way to complicate his delivery. I couldn’t tell if this was something to help his timing, or if he was actually starting his motion then hesitating. Maybe he didn’t even know it was happening.
In all seriousness, there is enough there that I can still see Bauer being in the major league rotation next year, but right now he is a mess, and it is not difficult to imagine someone with those mechanical issues blowing out his arm. He needs to be in a setting where his top priority is finding a delivery that he can repeat and be effective with, and that will not happen when he views every pitch as his ticket to Cleveland.
If I were the Indians I would give up on Bauer pitching in the majors this season, then I would have Mickey Callaway or some other pitching guru tear down Bauer’s entire approach to pitching and help him figure it out. A similar approach was taken with Roy Halladay several years ago, and he came back from the brink of being released to win a Cy Young award. Bauer has been called arrogant and unteachable, especially by the Diamondbacks before he was traded to Cleveland. If he is still arrogant after what he has been through this year, God help him.
Other than Bauer, the game was about as exciting as a dentist appointment. I didn’t see anyone in the Clippers lineup who looked like he was ready to come to Cleveland and help. Tim Fedroff and Ezequiel Carrera actually look like they have regressed, and Matt Laporta is about the same. There was a lot of cheering for the hot dog race, which is a bad sign for the future of America.