Bauer hits 'higher end of expectation' in return

Righty allows two hits in scoreless 1 1/3 innings

Alex Hooper
September 22, 2018 - 12:07 am
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) throws a pitch to Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) during the first inning at Progressive Field.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer said he had trouble sleeping on Thursday night. He would pitch again on Friday for the first time since being struck by a line drive 41 days ago.

The righty’s outing lasted just 34 pitches over the course of 1 1/3 innings, but it went just about as well as one could expect. Bauer allowed a pair of singles, but no runs, picking up seven swinging strikes including a strikeout of American League MVP candidate J.D. Martinez. His fastball averaged 93.4 mph, predictably his lowest average since the second start of 2018, but touched 95.5.

Bauer smiled like he seldom does in his post-game press conference, a cathartic and fulfilling end to a sleepless night.

“Generally, I sleep pretty well the night before a start, so it was kind of cool to be like a little kid again and looking forward to the tournament on the weekend, or the big game coming up on Saturday, or whatever the case is,” he said.

The 27-year-old emptied his proverbial tank in the bullpen following his abbreviated outing, tossing 20-or-so pitches with the intention to light up an absent radar gun. Aside from throwing with high intent, Bauer tried to simulate another live inning, including pitching from the stretch after walking an imaginary hitter.

Anything to replicate more of the real thing.

“Just typical mind games you play with yourself trying to get in a game situation as much as possible,” he added.

Bauer will get the opportunity to do it all over again on Tuesday in Chicago against the White Sox, likely with more than a 35-pitch limit.

Still, the results from round one were impressive to the pitcher himself, as well as Manager Terry Francona. The skipper said Bauer’s four-out stretch reached the ‘higher end of expectations.’

“I mean, he had pretty good velocity, he didn’t command like he will, but I thought he looked pretty damn good,” Francona said. “Probably more importantly, he felt pretty good.”

Even Bauer said his command was better than he thought it would be, throwing strikes on exactly half of his offerings.

Between now and Tuesday, an ideal span for the pitcher who loves three days’ rest, Bauer will maintain his routine and focus on his mechanics. The mechanics, Bauer said, are best when he is closer to being out of gas, or ‘redline.’ The purpose of the final stretch in the bullpen Friday night was to get more repetitions at that line, and hopefully push the mechanics along with it.

“What was super encouraging is that from bullpen to live BP to the game, I've seen mechanical improvement all three times,” Bauer said. “Have seen stuff tick up all three times. The health, the feeling in the ankle, has been better all three times. So, everything's trending in a very positive direction.”