Trevor Bauer is threatening to change the game of baseball. In an age where pitch counts are so fervently enforced, Trevor Bauer defied the norm, tossing 10 complete games as a junior at UCLA. Can Bauer be the player who ushers in a new method of handling pitchers?
First, Bauer has to stay healthy and succeed. He has more than enough stuff to do so according to the scouting reports we saw before the draft. Bauer’s fastball touched 97 MPH, but he liked using a two-seamer in the low-90’s with excellent late movement down and away from righty batters. His second pitch was a big 11-to-5 curveball with nasty break that’s a true plus pitch. He also mixed in various other breaking balls, including a slider. He also threw a low-to-mid 80’s changeup with solid sink that he was continuing to work on. Thanks to Bauer’s Pitch F/X data from Brooks Baseball, we get a chance to more clearly define his pitches and see just how good he is and is going to be. We’ll look his data using another one of my original Pitch F/X graphs.
(For a general explanation of the topic of Pitch F/X and specifically how to read this type of graph, please click here.)
This is a limited sample (43 pitches) from one spring training start, but it still tells us some interesting things about Bauer’s arsenal. Bauer’s fastball was sitting at 95 MPH with some nice run away from right-handed batters and late sink. Bauer built off his fastball to mix in the other five pitch types that Pitch F/X identified. Seeing the word “screwball” in the key jumps out, but he uses it as a sinker, and at around 87 MPH, it works well, featuring a nice velocity difference from his fastball with run and nice downward movement. Bauer also located it well, and it’s a pitch that could consistently force whiffs and weak contact as long as Bauer can establish his fastball. Bauer’s third pitch on the day was his curveball, and it was nasty, featuring close to 12-to-6 break with outstanding depth and a little run at the end.
Bauer’s slider and cutter were similar pitches, with his cutter being just a little harder and featuring less downward action, and especially the sliders were effective because they look like a flat curve or screwball coming out of Bauers hand before featuring late downward movement, which makes it if not a plus pitch, a pitch that can force swings-and-misses if he mixes it in at the right times. But the most interesting pitch on the day for Bauer was the one changeup he threw, a pitch that featured great sink and nice fade, and if it can get his changeup to be consistently like that, it could be another plus pitch for him.
Based on this data, Bauer’s fastball isn’t especially notable, but the way he uses it to branch off into his screwball and other offspeed pitches makes him an excellent pitcher. Bauer needs to get more movement on his fastball than we saw here, but once he can do that he has ace potential. Bauer currently has 3 plus pitches (fastball, screwball, curveball) and he could end up with 4, and he’ll be able to mix his arsenal effectively to dominate opposing hitters. He’s a gamer on the mound and exactly the type of pitcher you want on the mound when your season is on the line. The Diamondbacks fans have an exciting time ahead of them with Bauer just about ready for the major leagues. Teaming Bauer with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Trevor Cahill, no one will want to face the Diamondbacks.
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