Trevor Bauer turns in the worst start of the season

30 Comments

Not his worst start. The worst start.

Trevor Bauer surrendered five runs and six hits while getting just two outs Friday in the first game of a doubleheader against the White Sox. He was up to 49 pitches in the first when manager Terry Francona finally had to come get him, putting the Indians in a major bind with at least 17 more innings to go today.

Oddly, Bauer opened the game immediately working from the stretch. He may have had some problems getting loose, judging from the way he was often shrugging and stretching in-between pitches. His velocity was fine, though, as he was hitting 93-94 mph with his fastball.

But if working exclusively from the stretch was an experiment, it was a disastrous one. He gave up hits to the first two batters he faced. After a sac fly, he surrendered a two-run homer to Adam Dunn and later a solo shot to Jeff Keppinger, who had just one homer in 227 at-bats this season. That made it 4-0.

Brent Morel followed Keppinger’s homer was a single. Bauer, despite working from the stretch for about 30 pitches now, paid him absolutely no attention, allowing him to steal second easily, even though he stumbled a little on the way. It was Morel’s 12th steal in 184 major league games. Gordon Beckham followed with a double to make it 5-0.

After that came a Tyler Flowers HBP, which might seem rather suspicious, except for the fact that it came with two strikes and wasn’t actually a HBP. The ball obviously hit the knob of Flowers’ bat, judging by a) the sound it made, b) the fact that it rolled at least 20 feet away and c) that Flowers didn’t so much as shake his hand afterwards, despite the pitch being a 93-mph fastball.

Bauer knew the ball hit the knob and questioned umpire Alan Porter’s terrible decision to award the HBP, but didn’t argue vehemently. Francona came out as well. He’d return a couple of minutes later after Bauer walked leadoff man Alejandro De Aza. Bauer was pulled after throwing 49 pitches to 10 batters.

It’s almost certainly the last we’ll see of Bauer in the majors for a while. The Indians might want to consider demoting him to A-ball, rather than Triple-A, in order to send him a message.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
11 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.