Select Pitches from Trevor Bauer’s Debut

It’s probably true that basically any idiot can capture and render into GIF form video footage of a few pitches from Trevor Bauer‘s much-anticipated major-league debut on Thursday. Only one such idiot, however, both (a) writes for FanGraphs and (b) has 15 free minutes on Friday evening.

This guy, is who.

So, without anything further in the way of preface, here are three select pitches from Bauer’s debut. (Note: for each pitch, both velocity and movement — horizontal and then vertical — are listed. League-average velocity/movement indicated in parentheses).

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Curveball

Velocity, Movement: 79.3 mph (77.4), 0.8 in. gloveside (6.0), 4.3 in. drop (6.2)
Notes: This is one of two whiffs Bauer induced on his curve.

Changeup

Velocity, Movement: 82.3 mph (83.7), 6.1 in. armside (6.7), 7.0 in. rise (3.8)
Notes: This is the one swinging-strike Bauer induced on his changeup. (Note: for more on what “rise” means in terms of PITCHf/x, click here.)

Reverse Slider

Velocity, Movement: 84.9 mph (N/A), 4.1 in. armside (N/A), 3.8 in rise (N/A)
Notes: A “reverse slider” isn’t an actual thing the author had really heard of before today. Fortunately, it is something with which Harry Pavlidis is familiar and about which he corresponded briefly with Bauer himself on Twitter earlier today. If I understand it correctly, it has movement similar to a changeup, but is typically thrown with a higher velocity — although not as fast as a two-seam fastball, for example.

Here’s that reverse slider, thrown to Michael Bourn in the first inning for a called strike three:

And here’s sweet slow-motion footage of that same pitch:

Brooks Baseball was entirely useful in the composition of this post.



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Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

So are you worried that he only managed to induce three swings and misses while giving up 4 hits off his offspeed stuff alone. Seems like the Braves weren’t fooled at all by his whole “pitch tunneling” philosophy. At times they seemed to just be sitting back and waiting for the offspeed stuff.

As for the “reverse slider,” I think how good it looks is more a function of the plane he started it on than anything special about the pitch. It’s more of just a fast changeup (similar velo differential to a guy like Jair Jurrjens), but he did an excellent job of starting than one on the corner and running it just off the plate. In a sense, the guy with the repertoire of pitches most comparable to Bauer was Maddux (except he didn’t name his different fastballs and changes different things). That looks like the quintessential Maddux change from the mid 90s though. Obviously Bauer doesn’t have anywhere near the command of Maddux (honestly who did?), but he does have a couple extra ticks of velo (though Maddux would hit the low 90s early in his career).

Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

Actually looking more into it, I don’t think that is the pitch that Bauer calls his reverse slider. That pitch is supposed to be 88-91 according to Bauer. It looks more like a slightly harder version of the changeup he talks about running in on RHH.

http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120208&content_id=26613236&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
4 years 2 months ago

His minor league whiff rate was over ten. I think he will show fine abiltiy to strike hitters out, but walks will almost certainly be a problem.

Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

Minor leaguers would chase his curve in the dirt a ton or his fastball up out of the zone because they struggle to distinguish between the two pitches quickly enough. MLB hitters won’t have that problem. We saw just that against the Braves as they had no problem sitting back on the curve and driving it. He gave up more hits off the curve than he got whiffs. You can’t just look at stats when trying to figure out how prospects will transition to the majors.

Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

That’s not to say he can’t still be a very good strikeout pitcher, but I think it’s more likely to be off of whiffs off the change or sequencing that catches guys looking than it will be off swings and misses at the curve (his main stikeout weapon in the minors).

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

Actually, I was more impressed with that bocce ball action into the oppositions dugout, where he strained his groin. Could the ‘reverse slider’ be either a bad screwball, or a variation of the same changeup Cueto throws.

Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

No, he’s talked about his “reverse slider” before. It’s essentially gripped like a slider and released like a sinker. It ends up with more run than sink because of his high arm slot.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

To your point… http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120208&content_id=26613236&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb

It seems it’s ala Nolasco’s cut fastball, with personalization.

John
Guest
John
4 years 2 months ago

“It seems it’s ala Nolasco’s cut fastball”

Except it runs instead of cuts.

A
Guest
A
4 years 2 months ago

Perhaps it’s time to point out Bauer was pitching on only 3 days rest and this was his debut. Does one bad debut prove he’s way overrated or a future ace? No. Scouting reports, minor league numbers, and continued numbers over the course of his first few MLB seasons are more valuable than one short-rest start.

Seems like everyone hates him or loves him from his unique personality and approach to pitching. Can’t we just realize he has good raw stuff, some command issues to work out, and just see how he progresses?

Don Draper
Guest
Don Draper
4 years 2 months ago

Ya but think about what ur asking now

Train
Guest
Train
4 years 2 months ago

true, but damn that curve is stupid!

LowcountryJoe
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LowcountryJoe
4 years 2 months ago

How many pitches did he throw in his last minor league game before being pulled [he only faced 12 batters]?

Pete
Guest
Pete
4 years 2 months ago

He threw 50 pitches.

E.B.
Guest
E.B.
4 years 2 months ago

I can agree with this. However, I respect the fact that he’s thinking about things that many pitchers don’t, but he can come off as pretentious in the way he talks about his various philosophies on pitching. He has great stuff, but he’s not Yoda out there on the mound.

Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

I wouldn’t actually say his approach to pitching is unique at all. His willingness to talk about pitching and the way he names everything is the unique part. Things like “pitch tunnelling” and “effective velocity” aren’t new. They’re just new names for ideas that have been around for decades.

brandon
Guest
brandon
4 years 2 months ago

Imo, that reverse slider was ball 4.

JD
Guest
JD
4 years 2 months ago

Really? Because it certainly wasn’t high and the catcher caught it just a hair off the corner (so with that tailing action, it would’ve crossed the plate easily).

Looks pretty much like a strike to me.

Alex
Guest
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

I’d say the catcher caught it more than a hair off the corner (he brought it back there framing it but caught it maybe 3 inches off), but it’s definitely what I’d consider a 50/50 call. Honestly, it’s the epitome of a Maddux change running off the corner in the mid 90s (when he probably got strikes called on that location 95% of the time).

John
Guest
John
4 years 2 months ago

Ball.

Not even borderline. RH batters box.

Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard
4 years 2 months ago

That’s easily a strike. I don’t even think it’s really all that close. The ball is tailing outside, but clearly catches the front corner of the plate.

John
Guest
John
4 years 2 months ago

Are you suggesting the pitch did all of it’s tailing in it’s final 2 feet? lol!

a) The catcher knows it’s a ball
b) K-zone confirms it’s a ball

Smallie Biggs
Guest
Smallie Biggs
4 years 2 months ago

Trevor Bauer has some nasty stuff, and also seems to have wicked talent for pitching.

But unless Bauer learns to locate better , he’s not gonna fullfill his potential.

I think that location control is way underrated among MLB scouts.

Currently velocity is king, and pitchers who have slightly less velocity but are great on hitting their spots, aren’t taken.

Which I believe is a mistake.

For a guy like Trevor Bauer, he could be real good and a strikeout artist but with lots of walks. Sort of like a Max Scherzer.

Or he could take a tick off his stuff, and focus on location. Which I think would make him into a legit #1 down the line.

Meats
Guest
Meats
4 years 2 months ago

Agreed

hartmtown
Member
hartmtown
4 years 2 months ago

Bauer was actually locating his fastball at least really well for the first few innings. Not so much with the off-speed stuff, but he kept coming back to paint the corners when he really needed a strike. He got a little rattled in the fourth and lost his control a bit, but a lot of that (and the inability to throw the other stuff for strikes) *might* have been more nerves than anything else.

Kyle Boddy
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

“Or he could take a tick off his stuff, and focus on location.”

This is not how kinesthetic sense works. You don’t just throw 89-90 instead of 92-93 and suddenly walk 1bb/9. If it did, a lot of people would be successful.

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
4 years 2 months ago

In a conversation with a scout at the AFL last year, he told me that command is the most important thing for a pitcher.

Command can be learned. Velocity is more of a native skill. When a scout watches a young player without command, he’s looking for reasons why and determining if there are barriers to learning command.

LionoftheSenate
Guest
LionoftheSenate
4 years 2 months ago

Guy has a free and easy arm action, which clearly generates tons of movement. His issue seems to be his stride and kick. Seems to be a lot of moving parts with high arc……this means his command/control might be spotty until he can clean up his lower half.

WahooManiac
Guest
WahooManiac
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t see how this kid lasts with that absurd pre-game routine

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t see why long toss in pre game would be a reason to worry about his future. Seems to have worked so far.

nate
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

his “reverse slider” is just a “hard” screwball (r.a. dickey’s knuckler is still a knuckler even though, like bauer, he throws it 10-ish mph harder than a “normal” knuckler).

the long toss doesn’t scare me, the stretching doesn’t scare me, its the crow-hop huck off the front of the mound as hard as he can to start each inning that terrifies me (as a d’backs season ticket holder).

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