You may have heard of Indians’ pitching prospect Trevor Bauer when he was drafted out of UCLA because of his excellent fastball and unorthodox mechanics. You may also have heard of him when he debuted for the Diamondbacks last season as a heralded draft pick who some thought to be the next Tim Lincecum. Or maybe he crossed your radar when he went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA and was subsequently traded to the Indians this past offseason.
Bauer started for the Indians for the first time Saturday night and, well, it was awkward. Bauer walked seven Tampa Bay Rays (including the first four batters of the game) and threw 105 pitches in just five innings. He gave up three runs on two hits and even had a no-hitter into the fourth inning. Basically he showed exactly what he was in Arizona: a pitcher with electric stuff and absolutely no control.
The Indians optioned Bauer back to triple-A Columbus on Sunday to make room for Carlos Carrasco.
The idea is that one day Bauer will figure out a way to harness his stuff and throw strikes in a productive way, despite what he says in interviews about going for strike outs.
In any case, the Trevor Bauer saga continues. He absolutely dominates minor league hitters, going 12-2 with a 2.45 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A in 2012, but can’t figure it out in the bigs.
The concern is that he suffers from “second-deck syndrome,” i.e. when the stadia get bigger, he stops throwing strikes and starts pitching poorly. Seems like that’s exactly what happened on Saturday. If he had thrown a no-no and walked 9 batters like A.J. Burnett did in 2001, then we could talk. Especially since Burnett is still in the league today. But Bauer didn’t. He was mediocre at best and didn’t show any improvement in control since his last start in the majors.
If he doesn’t figure it out soon, he may end up one of the legendary draft busts in major league history.