Indians rookie Trevor Bauer enters the All-Star Break riding a scoreless inning streak of just over 11 frames. During that span he’s recorded 15 strikeouts against only three walks, with 10 of those K’s coming against the White Sox on Sunday.
The key to Bauer’s success recently has been the development of a devastating curveball which has been untouchable over his past two starts.
Against the Yankees and White Sox, Bauer has induced a whiff on 11 of the 18 curveballs hitters have offered at (61.1 percent). To put that into perspective, the league average whiff rate on curves this season is just 29.8 percent.
When Bauer can mix that curve in with his upper-90s fastballs, it’s a deadline combination as the White Sox learned on Sunday.
To get a feel for just how dominant Bauer has been, let’s take a look back at all 10 of his strikeouts from his last start.
No. 1 – Curveball vs Alejandro De Aza
Unfortunately I don’t have video of the first strikeout, but Bauer got De Aza to chase a curveball low and away.
No. 2 – 97 mph Fastball vs Jose Abreu
The upper-90s fastball isn’t Bauer’s go-to strikeout pitch, but when mixed in every so often it’s deadly, and Abreu simply couldn’t catch up to this one.
No. 3 – Curveball vs Conor Gillaspie
Here we get our first look at the curveball that the White Sox simply couldn’t figure out. This pitch actually doesn’t have quite as much break as some of Bauer’s better curves, but the location low and away and forced Gillaspie to chase.
No. 4 – Slider vs Gordon Beckham
Only 12 of Bauer’s 70 strikeouts have come via the slider this season, but 11 of those have been against righties. In fact, Bauer throws the slider almost twice as often against righties as lefties, against whom he favors the curve.
No. 5 – Curveball vs Leury Garcia
Speaking of lefties and that curveball, here’s Garcia looking absolutely helpless.
No. 6 – Curveball vs Alejandro De Aza
Round two with De Aza (another lefty), and he still can’t figure out that tricky curve.
No. 7 – Curveball vs Carlos Sanchez
This matchup just isn’t fair. Sanchez, making his major league debut, whiffs at a curve that appears to bounce before the plate.
No. 8 – Curveball vs Gordon Beckham
Beckham didn’t have the privilege of seeing the curve for his first strikeout, so Bauer decides to give him a look on this one. Beckham’s reaction pretty much sums up how the White Sox hitters felt all day.
No. 9 – Curveball vs Leury Garcia
Garcia’s second attempt at the curve looks marginally better than round one, but he still whiffs right over the top of the devastating 12-to-6 curve on the inside part of the plate.
No. 10 – Curveball vs Carlos Sanchez
For the grand finale, Bauer goes after the rookie again, inducing another off-balance attempt at making contact with the inside curve.
It’s tough to watch these highlights and not get excited about Bauer’s potential. Eight of the 10 strikeouts were with the curve, so you have to assume the hitters have a pretty good idea about what he wants to throw, and yet they simply can’t get the bat on the ball.
It should be fun to watch Bauer try to carry this over into the second half, and if he can keep this momentum going, the Indians may have found their future ace.