Trevor Bauer Continues to Impress in 2018

Say what you want about Trevor Bauer. Go ahead, see if he cares. He’s heard it all throughout his somewhat up and down career. “He’s stuck up, a bad teammate, and arrogant.” What you can’t say about Bauer is that he lacks confidence in himself and conviction in his process. It’s those two defining qualities that have paved the path to success for Trevor Bauer in 2018.

Maybe we should have seen this coming. Bauer’s second half dominance in 2017 and near flawless start in game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees were top of the rotation in terms of quality. They were also unexpected. While Bauer had shown flashes of greatness, he had never before sustained it for a prolonged period of time. Combined with both his development as a teammate and clubhouse presence, Bauer is reaching rarefied air.

So just how good has Trevor Bauer been?

Look no further than this Jordan Bastian mid-game tweet from last night. I’ll wait for you to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Consider for a minute how much of a luxury it is to have one Corey Kluber. Now consider having two Corey Klubers. That’s what the Indians have right now and that’s before considering that Bauer has been widely regarded as the third best starter on the staff behind Carlos Carrasco. And that Mike Clevinger guy hasn’t been so bad either. But, back to Bauer.

So far, 2018 has become the year of the Driveline Baseball revolution. The science and data driven baseball training center, which Trevor Bauer has been at the forefront of, has been the topic of media discussion all year long. Their scientific approach analyzing every aspect of a pitcher from spin rates to arm angles and breaking down the kinetic chain is revolutionizing the game. Trevor Bauer has taken their methods a step further, attempting to break down and replicate the best pitches of his counterparts. His goal, in Bauer’s own words, “to build the perfect pitcher.”

The primary focus of this past offseason was to rebuild Bauer’s slider. The reason for this was to develop an additional pitch that could be utilized down on the strike zone in addition to his curve ball and change-up. Through analysis of spin rates, mechanics, and playing with a variety of different grips, Bauer eventually settled on something similar to the pitch utilized by Corey Kluber.

He nailed it.

Trevor Bauer’s revamped slider was on full display Tuesday night.

The Texas Rangers had absolutely no answer for Bauer. In particular, his slider continuously made hitters look off-balance and uncomfortable all night long. Of his 11 strikeouts, four came by way of the slider, including his first three. All four were also bad swings and misses.

Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Slider Swing and Miss
Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Slider Swing and Miss
Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Slider Swing and Miss
Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Slider Swing and Miss

All four of the put away sliders above were unhittable. However, that didn’t stop the Rangers from biting on or wailing away at each of them. That is a testament both to Bauer’s ability to replicate the same mechanics pitch after pitch and the absolutely wicked late movement. Sure, Robinson Chirinos eventually tagged one of these sliders into the right field seats, but when properly executed, it’s as dominant a pitch as anything thrown by Kluber.

Where Bauer truly excelled last night was the utilization of the other pitches in his arsenal. After early success with the slider, Bauer flipped the script on the Rangers, opting instead for a two-seam fastball. Where his slider was starting in the zone and diving out late, his two-seamer had the opposite approach, starting in off the plate and tailing back over the corner. All three times, Bauer caught Rangers hitters off guard, resulting in called third strikes. The resulting befuddled body language is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Two-Seamer
Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Two-Seamer
Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Two-Seamer

This is the mark of a great pitcher. Like I previously explained about Carlos Carrasco, it’s this ability to mix pitches and keep hitters guessing that leads to success. What Trevor Bauer did last night to the Rangers wasn’t just striking out batters. He was toying with them. Bauer also utilized his wicked 12-6 knuckle curve, a cutter, and a 95-MPH four-seamer to collect four additional strikeouts.

Here is the four-seamer in all its glory for your viewing pleasure.

Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer Four-Seamer

So is the revolution here? Has Trevor Bauer changed the game when it comes to training and preparation? If he keeps this up the answer will undoubtedly be yes. After six starts. Bauer looks like the Cy Young caliber pitcher he has always believed himself to be. At the age of 27 and just now entering his prime, it’s terrifying to think how much better he can be. But without any shadow of a doubt, Bauer is probably already working on the next big thing. Buckle up, folks.