Trevor Bauer has had a solid season for Cleveland, posting a 4.22 ERA in 22 starts while striking out 124 batters in 130 innings as a 23-year-old, but his first-inning struggles have the Indians talking to him about making changes.
Bauer has a 5.14 ERA in the first inning and had a particularly rough opening frame Thursday, after which manager Terry Francona told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
We can’t keep getting out to deficits like that. He just worked behind in the count the first time and a half through the order. The second time and a half through the order, he worked ahead and the results were drastically different.
I just think Trevor tries to find him pitches right away in the game and sometimes it takes a while. That’s why we’ve talking to him about simplifying things early. But he’s a stubborn kid and he’s come a long way. You’re not always going to get it in one jump. Sometimes it take a a while to be a finished product.
The “he’s a stubborn kid” part played a role in the Diamondbacks trading Bauer to the Indians for pennies on the dollar, but for the most part Francona and Cleveland have to be very happy with his progress this season. He’s got nearly a strikeout per inning while limiting homers and cutting his walk rate from horrible to merely bad. And at age 23 he looks like a potential long-term building block for the Indians.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.