We’ve seen stretches of brilliance from Trevor Bauer this season, but lately all we’ve gotten from him is misery in pitching form. What exactly is happening lately? While there may be underlying mental and physical issues right now with Bauer that we don’t know about, there are a number of red flags when we look at a few of his different starts.
To try and offer my amateur diagnosis of Bauer’s problems, I decided to look at four different starts – two good ones (against the Cubs on June 16 and the Athletics on August 2) and two bad ones (against the Yankees on August 13 and the Red Sox on August 18). I looked at various factors, including the heat maps of his pitch location on all four outings.
First, some numbers:
August 18 – 27.00 ERA, 4.57 xFIP, .600 BABIP, left on base percentage 28.6%
August 13 – 16.20 ERA, 8.65 xFIP, .357 BABIP, left on base percentage 55.6%
August 2 – 1.35 ERA, 4.40 xFIP, .235 BABIP, left on base percentage 87.5%
June 16 – 0.00 ERA, 4.03 xFIP, .235 BABIP, left on base percentage 100%
While obviously this won’t tell us everything, you can see that outside of the August 12 game, his xFIP was fairly consistent. He had some good luck in his two solid performances with the low BABIP, and some bad luck in the bad performances. He obviously was not able to strand runners in his two poor performances.
How does his pitch location look? Let’s look at the two good starts first:
And now the two bad starts:
As you can see from the heat maps, Bauer’s command is much more scattered in the two poor starts. There also seems to be more up in the zone, just waiting for a hitter to tee off on the pitch.
So what is Bauer’s problem? While there still could be more to the story, this looks like a combination of some bad luck and some bad command. That still doesn’t mean there is necessarily an easy fix here; if the command issues are connected to a mechanical flaw, it may be something that is solved more easily than if they’re connected to something mental. There’s no point in sending Bauer to the minors, particularly when the minor league season ends soon and major league rosters will be expanding anyway. When you’re pitching for a team that’s no longer in contention, you’ll likely have the luxury of working on your issues with the big league club.