Trevor Bauer Ready to Make His Debut

Other than perhaps Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy, there’s maybe no pitching prospect in the minors more highly touted than Arizona’s Trevor Bauer, the third pick in last year’s draft. After being pulled from his Triple-A start following only 50 pitches on Sunday, Bauer is reportedly on his way to the bigs to start for Arizona against the Braves on Thursday, kicking off what is sure to be years of me confusing him with Diamondback rotation mate Trevor Cahill.

Bauer comes up to replace the recently disabled Joe Saunders in an Arizona rotation which is suddenly in need of help. Cahill’s been fine, and Wade Miley has been a shocking success story, but Daniel Hudson has been injured & ineffective while Ian Kennedy has been unable to recreate his magical 2011. That’s after Josh Collmenter flamed out early in the season, and with Saunders on the shelf, there’s great opportunity here for Bauer to take advantage of.

If he performs anything like he has in the minors, he’s going to take that chance and run with it. Bauer reached Triple-A in his first full season this year, getting moved up from Double-A Mobile after just eight starts in which he whiffed 60 in 48.1 innings. In eight more starts for Triple-A Reno, he struck out 56 more in 44.2 innings; the combined total of 116 not only leads the minors, it makes him the only minor leaguer to even reach triple digits (through Monday). Despite all the strikeouts, Bauer’s combined K/BB rate on the season is only a good-but-not-great 2.42, thanks to a mediocre 4.6 BB/9 rate across the two levels.

The combination of working deep into counts to get strikeouts and a high walk rate has one very obvious downside, and that’s that Bauer may have difficulty working deep into games. As a young starter, the Diamondbacks are likely to have him on a pitch count early in his career, and so it’s not hard to see scenarios where he’s leaving after 5 1/3 innings and 104 pitches. (And, one would hope, seven or eight strikeouts.) That’s not necessarily a problem for the Diamondbacks, who have a decent enough bullpen, but leaving games that early is likely to cost him a few wins in games which get decided in the later innings, a potential source of frustration for fantasy owners.

Back in early May, Mike Newman provided a scouting report of Bauer, noting that he had four pitches which could all be “plus”, but also pointing out that there’s still some inconsistency to work through:

In game action, Bauer played catch to the tune of a 92-95 MPH fastball. Late in the outing, a possible moment of frustration after being touched up a bit saw his velocity spike to 97-98 MPH. Having read Ben Duronio’s piece discussing Bauer’s recent Twitter conversation about the stigma of working up in the zone, seeing Bauer practice what he preached did not make me more likely to take his side in the argument. In fact, a contact in attendance went as far as to say, “Bauer will have outings where he looks like a young Kerry Wood and strikes out 15, but he’ll also be chased in the second on occasion as well. He just kind of throws the fastball up there. It also makes me wonder how he’ll fare a second time through the league”.

For fantasy purposes, he’s an obvious and immediate must-add in keeper leagues, if he’s even still available. In redraft leagues, he’s worth the spot as well; despite the control issues and potential pitch count limitations, his pure strikeout stuff makes him a valuable commodity. Don’t expect a Strasburg-like debut, because that kind of polished pitcher comes along once in along in a generation. But as long as he can keep his control issues within a reasonable level, the hit you may take to your WHIP is worth the bump in strikeouts. The still-undetermined return of Saunders won’t be enough to bump him from the rotation as long as he’s performing, so bid with confidence.




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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times and TechGraphs, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.


14 Responses to “Trevor Bauer Ready to Make His Debut”

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  1. ALEastbound says:

    Unfair, the D’Backs get to call up Trevor Bauer while the Blue Jays called up….ahem…Jesse Chavez.

    Oh, and just signed Jamie Moyer.

    While there is definitely help on the way, it’s unfortunate it is all in lower levels (Nicolino, Syndergaard, Wojciechowski, Sanchez, Norris etc.)

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    • Matt NW says:

      Yes… terribly unfair. Bauer should make one start for every big league team.

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    • Doug D says:

      If you believe SIERA, there is nothing wrong with Chavez at all. He should be getting some more starts instead of getting yanked from the rotation.

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  2. Jason says:

    There’s reason to think that the concerns about Bauer’s control and his efficiency could overblown.

    For the control, it’s known that he’s experimenting with his pitches and developing new ones… he’s aware that he’s a highly polished prospect, and good enough to have success without worrying about it too much at the minor league level. It’s conceivable that he’s treating the Minors as extended spring training, just trying what he wants to try and suffering some control issues as a consequence. Caveat: even if this is true, which is certainly not a given, you’d like to see him practice his control a little before you trust that it will be there. It could be tough to break out of the experimentation mindset.

    For his efficiency and pitch limits, he specifically trains to work into high pitch counts and he specifically looked for a ballclub that would trust him and his approach and not try to change him. Obviously the manager isn’t just gonna run him out there to 130 pitches every night, but I think more often than not he makes a full 6 innings, and I wouldn’t be shocked at a complete game or two on more efficient nights. Caveat: obviously this assumes he’s meeting or exceeding expectations.

    I certainly understand the concerns, and you never know how even the most polished prospects will perform in the Majors, but there’s at least some reason to think that he could be even better than we’ve seen so far.

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    • Dave says:

      These are pretty much my thoughts on the matter. I have no doubt he can throw strikes, he just feels no need to and is trained to pitch into uncharted pitch count territory. So while he may appear lucky, he might not be; if he has batter making contact with pitches out of the zone, and given his stuff, he might be able to sustain a low BABIP. And a high LOB% can be explained away by his obscene K/9. I’m still concerned that he’ll walk even more, as it becomes harder to get hitters out with balls out of the zone as you climb the ranks, but aside from that I’m excited.

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  3. mcbrown says:

    Meh. It all depends on who you have to drop for him, certainly in redraft leagues. When the announcement came, Bauer was still available in the majority of my standard redraft leagues. I passed in all. He’s still available in one. Still passing.

    His AA and AAA peripherals are inferior to Matt Moore’s, and we have all seen how Moore has struggled with his command and control at times. I’d say Matt Moore’s performance to date is Bauer’s ceiling for this year (THIS year only – not in the long term), and that’s IF everything goes Bauer’s way (i.e. his walk issues don’t get worse at MLB). That performance could certainly have value, depending on the league format, but it’s kind of fringe-y in 12 team redraft leagues. So again, it depends on what you have to give up to get him – you might catch lightning in a bottle, but odds are you’ll catch something not quite as good as Matt Moore so far.

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    • mcbrown says:

      Of course now that I’m thinking of it, Bauer has two advantages over Moore that may make his ceiling slightly higher: getting to pad his stats against pitchers, and not pitching in the AL East.

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    • Jason says:

      I’m in on Bauer in my redraft league for one big reason: I love the gamble. I grabbed Trout & Rizzo, too. I highly doubt I’ll get another payback like I have with Trout, but the anticipation is the fun part.

      It helps that my draft wound up with a lot of under performance this year, so I’ve had a lot of players worth dropping.

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  4. Dan Straily says:

    Excuse me. I have 100 strikeouts.

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  5. Big Jgke says:

    I never liked Bauer, I was always more of a CCM guy.

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  6. Ned says:

    I grabbed Bauer in my H2H 10-team keeper league. I’m already thick on pitching with Kershaw, Weaver, Morrow, Zimmerman, Capuano, Gallardo, Sanchez, Latos. I’ve already had a couple offers for him, but the best is Longoria. I dunno is I give him up for Longoria, though. I’m in 2nd place, and I have Beltre, Aviles, and Cabrera (using at 1st). I think as a keeper, I hang on to Bauer despite offers. Longoria actually seems like he could be risky anyway, given his play and troubles this year. Would anyone trade Bauer for him? If not, what type of player would you require in return?

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  7. Accountability Police says:

    Ahem. How is the obvious and immediate must-add in all leagues working out for people?

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