CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – With all the clamoring about adding a third starter at the trade deadline, it would seem as if the Cleveland Indians had issues within their rotation. Meanwhile, the rotation has continued to excel top-to-bottom, while the offense sputters and often gives as little help as possible.
A night after Corey Kluber carried a three-hitter into the bottom of the 9th, only to be bailed out with four runs and a win, Trevor Bauer suffered a similar fate with the opposite finish.
The right-hander went seven innings, allowing one run on a solo home run, making two solo shots the only blemish against Tribe starters in 16 straight innings.
The impending lack of offense and slow collapse after Bauer’s exit aside, the outing made it three straight of the quality variety for the 26-year old. Over his last 22 innings, Bauer has allowed three earned runs despite seven hits in each outing.
While scattering seven hits may not be ideal for a starter in each of his outings, the reason Bauer has stayed so successful is that he has only walked three additional batters in as many games. On Wednesday, he did not allow a free pass at all.
That can easily be seen in his pitch chart, as he peppered the zone with each of his pitches. When they were in the zone, they were generally on the same plane of attack.
Bauer and Manager Terry Francona each have acknowledged throughout the course of the year that the righty’s stuff was not well-represented by his numbers.
While the pitcher himself would maintain that he was executing for the most part, his manager contends that Bauer has cleaned up the ancillary issues that surrounded the effectiveness of his pitches.
“I think the walks had something to do with that,” Francona said. “Giving up damage in situations because he runs counts deep, things like that. He has been really good lately, for the most part.”
Further to Francona’s point, Bauer allowed just five three-ball counts through 28 plate appearances Wednesday, limiting walks, but it also allowed the starter to get deeper into the game.
Three of Bauer’s five seven-inning outings coming in the last three.
The development of the right-hander’s approach has changed throughout the season, with a curveball-heavy approach emerging in early May. There was an eventual adjustment from opposing hitters, as there normally is.
Bauer said that as he used his plus-curveball more, the adjustments against him have caused him to reconfigure his arsenal.
“I felt like the last couple of outings, I could balance between using my curveball more than I was earlier, but also using my changeup and my cutter more as well,” he said. “I think that’s helped, as well.”
Since his start on July 16th, Bauer’s four-seamer usage has fallen from mid-to-upper 50 percent of his pitches to the mid-to-low 40s, while his cutter and changeup usage went from low single-digits to mid-teens.
Bauer also said that he will continue to throw his curve as much as possible, but that it will be based on his feel for the game.
“Sure, there’s some guys that you can do the same thing to, because of their swing or whatever, they can’t hit it,” he said. “For the most part, you have to disguise what you’re doing and take the information that the hitter is giving you. You can tell when guys are starting to slow their bat down a little bit to try to deal with it or trying to elevate their eye-sight or whatever, so you throw something else.”