As I write this, Kyle Schwarber just worked a 3-0 count against Indians starter Trevor Bauer in Game 2 of the World Series, and then Schwarber ripped an RBI single into center field. Now there’s a mound visit. Things aren’t going well for Bauer in his first start since his drone-shortened outing against the Blue Jays in the ALCS.
And in that outing against the Blue Jays, however short, I noticed something about Bauer that I made a note to keep an eye on the next time he took the mound. I’ve watched Bauer pitch his entire career, and I’d never noticed it before.
I want to show you a couple pitches. This first one is a fastball, Bauer’s first pitch of the game:
And now a curveball, the very next pitch:
The difference stuck out to me like a sore thumb. To me, Bauer sure looks like he’s decelerating his motion significantly in the second pitch, and slowing his arm action. I started trying to identify the curve as Bauer was throwing it with each pitch, and I was doing so with success.
I took a screenshot when Bauer’s arm stopped going back and started moving forward, at the moment when his glove reached its highest point. Again, the fastball is on the top and the curve on the bottom:
The MLB logo makes it easy to compare, and it’s noticeably higher on the curve, in the second clip. This is something our own Jonah Pemstein sort of wrote about this earlier today, that Bauer’s release point on the curve is unusually high, relative to his other pitches. But this has less to do with release points and more to do with timing.
Take these clips from Bauer’s best start of the year, back in June against the Mariners.
First, a fastball
Now the curve:
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m see more conviction with the curveball, and less slowing of the arm action. The same screenshots:
They’re almost indistinguishable. The bottom of the glove more or less lines up with the chalk.
Back to tonight. I’m seeing it again. Again, I’ve been trying to identify the curves as Bauer winds up, and I’m getting it right almost every time. If I’m getting it right from the press box, I have a hard time imagining Cubs hitters aren’t.
Here’s a couple of curves to Kris Bryant, and while FOX, somehow, still has not yet captured a full Bauer windup on a curve, the slowed arm action is still apparent:
And the comparison shot:
Again, the lettering makes it easy to compare, and it’s clear Bauer is reaching higher. Part of that is likely just by design, the nature of throwing a curve, but we see that it wasn’t as extreme earlier in the season, and it’s hard not to notice the change in arm action.
Either way, the curve is just missing. Bauer had trouble throwing it for a strike against the Blue Jays, and here’s his current pitch chart as I write this post:
He can’t throw it for strikes, and when he is getting it inside the zone, he’s leaving it up. Also, there’s this:
So, yeah. Something is up with Trevor Bauer’s curve.