After Kluber‘s breakout performance in 2014, the Indians know pitching is a source of strength. But can Bauer take them to the next level?
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer is a thinker. The wheels are always turning, especially in regards to pitching. So for him, the biggest bit of work he’s done to get better this off-season?
To stop thinking so much.
After watching fellow starter Corey Kluber emerge to become the AL Cy Young winner last season, Bauer has spent the winter looking for that edge to get him into that same position. His drive, his desire to be the best is what had him travelling the country picking the brain of pitching gurus, throwing everyday, and lifting weights to become stronger for the trials of a long season.
“I want to be the best, I don’t know by what standard you measure being the best, but I want to go out there and perform and feel like I’m the best.”
It’s not just his determination that could help him repeat Kluber’s jump of success. It’s his observation and awareness of everything around him.
After watching Kluber dominate with a two-seam fastball, he’s worked to add it to his repertoire for this season. He’s researched how some of the best have gotten to that point, and much of his analysis points to “don’t think”.
"“A lot of the research I’ve been doing on peak performers [shows] they don’t think,” Bauer said. “They’re not really conscious of what they’re doing. h/t Zack Meisel, Northeast Ohio Media Group"
That could be tough on Bauer. He’s always conscious of his performance, on making tweaks and changes to give his best performance. And even when he feels like he’s there, he knows there’s more work to do.
Last season he posted a 5-8 record, with a 4.18 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 153 innings. But Bauer showed progress in his final seven starts, going 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA, holding hitters to a .235 average. His lone loss in that span he went eight inning, allowing four runs on four hits while striking out eight.
The former third overall pick from the 2011 MLB Amatuer Draft, Bauer showed his worth in 2012 between Double and Triple-A for Arizona, posting a 12-2 record with a 2.42 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings.
To this point, Bauer’s “adjustment” period has lasted a year at each stage. Last year would, at his recent pace, be that period.
Can the young man – who has admittedly composed lyrics to “somber” raps to help deter him from over-thinking – take that next step as Kluber did last season for the Tribe? “Until I have a season where I do feel like I’m the best, I don’t think I’m really going to be satisfied with it. And even when I do have a season where I feel like I’m the best, I’m sure I’ll find something that I’m unsatisfied with it. That’s kind of how I am.”
Keep being how you are Trevor. Indians’ fans will appreciate it come October.