We should have seen this coming. Trevor Bauer has been striking out more batters this season than he ever has before, especially in recent weeks. He was going up against a weak Oakland Athletics offense that has trouble hitting curveballs. He has a good curveball. There was no stopping him.
Although Bauer did allow a handful of runs, he was unhittable during a lot of tonight’s win, due in big part to an uptick in curveball usage. Bauer relied on his hammer 12-6 curve 46 times tonight, according to Baseball Savant. It induced 10 swinging strikes and 10 called strikes — just one curevball was put into play. That’s incredible, and so were the career-high 14 strikeouts dished out by the young pitcher today.
While I’m looking at Baseball Savant anyway, here’s something else interesting: Bauer got stronger throughout the game. His four-seam velocity actually increased as he threw more of them.
Bauer’s night started out looking like a gem, with three A’s batters in the first frame going down swinging (the only non-strikeout being a harmless double), but he began to struggle in the second inning and later in the fourth. He even had the audacity to go through an entire inning (the second) without recording a single strikeout. That in itself makes the accomplishment more impressive — he struck out 14 batters in six innings, technically, not the seven that shows up in the box score.
The last time Trevor set a career-high in strikeouts, Tyler Naquin outshined him with a dramatic walk-off inside-the-park home run against the Toronto Blue Jays. Everyone remembers Naquin flying around third, sliding head-first into home, and throwing up a rock sign. But few remember that Bauer started that game and casually struck out 13 batters against one of the league’s best lineups. Kind of unfortunate for Bauer, having your offense be so good that they ruin your career night. That almost happened again tonight.
Everyone in the Tribe lineup at least got on base tonight, with the exception of Daniel Robertson. The only two Cleveland Indians to not hit, Francisco Lindor and Roberto Perez, walked. In fact, Lindor reached a new career mark of his own with his three walks. He has walked twice in a game a little over a dozen times, but this is the first time he’s drawn a trio of them in one outing. Sonny Gray and the A’s bullpen look like they had an attack plan for Lindor in the upper part of the zone, but they missed far too many times and Lindor didn’t chase a damn thing.
His pitch chart is art in its purest form, and even includes a strike that was incorrectly called a ball.
Earlier today, I wrote about Tyler Naquin’s place on the Indians now that Bradley Zimmer is living up to the hype early on. I thought about publishing it tomorrow, but if Zimmer had a horrid, 0-4, four strikeout night again the post probably wouldn’t resonate well. So I sent it out tonight and Zimmer made me look way smarter than I actually am.
Zimmer went 2-for-4 on the night, including a double and mammoth home run that put the game out of save range in the eighth. He also showed off those freakishly long legs when he chased down a few fly balls. Indians Twitter, being Indians Twitter, had fun with Zimmer’s great night.
We still can’t seem to agree on what to call him. Anything but #Zimjob.
So far for names:— HIPSTER TITO (@HipsterTito) May 30, 2017
Not Aaron Cunningham
5 more and I'll start a tourney. With @Reflog_18 as a special advisor.
Zimmer’s spot on the Indians probably wasn’t in jeopardy, and it probably won’t be a week from now, but tonight went a long way towards cementing his place as the Indians centerfielder of the foreseeable future. The speed, defense, and power all packaged in a toolsy centerfielder was on full display tonight.