After a season in which he boasted a 17-9 record in 31 starts and a 10.0 K/9 in 176.1 IP, Trevor Bauer is looking to build off his successful 2017 campaign, and after two starts in 2018, Bauer is poised for another successful season.
Part of the credibility to Bauer’s recent success is his slider, a pitch that he has struggled with in the past. In 2016, Bauer threw his curveball only 19.38% of time and his slider only 0.43% of the time. In fact, per brooksbaseball.net, Bauer threw his slider a total of 13 times throughout the entire 2016 regular season. Those numbers jumped to 29.83% for curveballs and 5.57% for sliders a season ago, and so far in two starts in 2018, Bauer has thrown his slider 21.39% of the time.
In 2016, Bauer’s slider sat around 87 mph with a horizontal movement of 2.97in. and a vertical movement of 2.08in. In 2017, he took a little bit of velocity off in favor of a little more movement. During the 2017 regular season, Bauer’s slider dropped to 85 mph with a horizontal break of 2.76in. and a vertical break of -0.23in.
So far in 2018, Bauer’s slider has been hovering around 82 mph with an impressive 6.30in. horizontal break and a superb -4.90in. vertical drop. So far it has been his most used pitch with two strikes in the count, throwing it exactly 50% of the time, and the results have been good. In 13 innings of work he has struck out 14 batters while only giving up eight hits.
Bauer has had hitters whiffing 30 times out of the 43 swings hitters have offered at his slider, and he has punched out seven of the 14 he has struckout so far this season with his slider. Batters are only hitting a mere .167 when Bauer throws his slider with two strikes.
When Bauer was traded to Cleveland in 2012 as a part of three team deal with the Diamondbacks and the Reds, he came with big expectations. After last season’s breakout second half, Bauer is in position to put up career numbers this season, and if he keeps his slider working the way it’s working now, he will have no trouble reaching those career milestones.