Trevor Bauer turns in the worst start of the season

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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.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.