Trevor Bauer has been a star for a long time; the number 3 pick in the 2011 MLB draft, Bauer was a star at UCLA, toeing the rubber for the Bruins, and was projected to continue his dominance in the big leagues. Finally, in 2015, 3 years after his debut, Bauer is starting to pitch like the star he was meant to be.
Trevor Bauer Comes Full Circle
Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bauer debuted in 2012 after a short tenure in the minors. Bauer got off to a rocky start as a big-leaguer, posting an ERA around six at the end of the 2012 season. Following his rough start and reported attitude problems, Miguel Montero, Bauer’s battery mate on the Diamondbacks, was quoted as saying, “When you get a guy like that and he thinks he’s got everything figured out, it’s just tough to commence and try to get on the same page with you.” Along with the rumored attitude problem, some people in Arizona were also weary of Bauer’s unique warmup routine. Bauer plays long-toss from foul pole to foul pole pre-game, and also takes a few steps behind the pitcher’s mound during his warm-up pitches between innings and throws the ball as hard as he can, sometimes right into the backstop. Bauer learned this routine at a pitching camp in Texas and has continued it as a professional, making Arizona fearful of potential arm problems down the line and of a stubbornness that could derail his once promising career.
Arizona apparently felt the risk for arm problems, the make-up, and the early struggles overshadowed Bauer’s work ethic and huge potential, and traded him to the Indians. The three-team trade was headlined by Bauer going to the Indians, Shin-Soo Choo going to the Reds, and Didi Gregorious going to Arizona. Gregorious is now struggling on the Yankees as Derek Jeter’s replacement, hitting .211, and Choo is now struggling on the Rangers, hitting .239. The Indians clearly got the best of this blockbuster trade; the Diamondbacks took a risk and it has come back to bite them.
Bauer began his Indians tenure in AAA in 2013. Later on in the season, he was again called up to the Show. However, Bauer again struggled, posting an ERA above five, and began 2014 in the minors once again. After going 4-1 and posting an ERA of 2.15 in AAA, Bauer got one more chance and hasn’t been back down to the minors since. He finished 2014 with a 4.18 ERA and a 5-8 record with Cleveland.
It seems as though Bauer has finally come full circle. His routine and attitude hasn’t been much of a problem with the Indians. This season, Bauer is 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA for an Indians team that has begun the 2015 season with a 21-25 record. At this point, Bauer is perhaps having an even better year than teammate, and 2014 Cy Young award winner, Corey Kluber, posting an ERA nearly half a run lower and possessing a higher WAR. Kluber was one of many Indians who struggled mightily to begin the season and although the Indians are still below .500, the trendy pre-season playoff pick and Sports Illustrated World Series winner were even worse to begin the season. Bauer has been one of the few Indians who have performed well all season, and is one of the key reasons that they managed to stay above water early on. Bauer is currently ranked in the top 20 in WAR (1.5), top 30 in strikeouts (55), and is ranked 31st in ERA (3.02) among qualified starting pitchers thanks to a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider. Bauer is on his way to a potential All-Star bid, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are probably kicking themselves for giving up too early on a great player who, at the age of 24, could be an ace for the next decade.