Despite already boasting one of the deepest starting rotations in all of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a splash this past offseason by signing Trevor Bauer to a record-setting three-year contract.
The right-hander was coming off a superb 2020 campaign with the Cincinnati Reds that ended with him winning his first career National League Cy Young Award. Through the first 10 starts of his Dodgers career, Bauer has essentially matched his numbers from a year ago.
Bauer attributed his success to consistently changing his pitch usage in each start to give players different looks. “My stuff is so good that I don’t really have a bad matchup,” Bauer said after his start against the Miami Marlins.
“It’s very rare that I would just eliminate a pitch against a certain guy. I know these pitches are more effective than those, but top to bottom, my stuff is really, really good. I think I have four or five pitches — probably four pitches — that are in the top five of their categories. It’s just a matter of not getting predictable.
“I don’t want guys to go up there and know they can eliminate these two pitches and look for this one in the zone. I want to have all six of my weapons going and have them have to gameplan for all of them.”
One example of how Bauer changes things up is by mixing in a two-seam fastball to complement his four-seam heater. “I threw four or five two-seams today. I think Statcast just isn’t used to me throwing two-seams this year,” Bauer said of his two-seamer not being accurately tracked against the Marlins.
“I didn’t throw a whole lot of them last year either in a short season. Over the course of 162 games, you need to have different weapons. Tonight was kind of an example of that.
“It’s not in the books and if I execute, it’s definitely different from my four-seam. I get some strikeouts on it and kind of get some confusion going. Just part of the plan to get through 162, start weaving in some different looks.”
Bauer’s strategy of giving players different looks seems to be paying off, as he enters Wednesday’s start against the Houston Astros with a 5-2 record, 1.98 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 0.77 WHIP and NL-leading 88 strikeouts in 63.2 innings pitched this season.
Bauer comfortable being focal point of hostility
After limiting the San Francisco Giants to one unearned run over 6.1 innings in his last start at Oracle Park, Bauer exited to a chorus of boos, to which he responded by cupping his ear and raising his arms.
“Fans wanted to boo me, so I wanted them to turn the volume up. If you’re going to boo me, don’t — I can’t say — don’t half … whatever. Just give it to me,” Bauer said.
“I think I’ve always done well in environments like that. For the majority of my career — well, I don’t want to say that — but in my earlier career, high school and some of my college days, it was a negative environment towards me every time I pitched because it was coming from my own team.
“I’m comfortable there. People have disliked me for a long time and people have tried to bully me. I’m comfortable there.”
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