Thursday’s starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds has not yet been named. With the doubleheader on Sunday – one that featured Trevor Bauer starting game two – there’s been some speculation as to who would step in to make that start. Bauer has lobbied to start every 4th day this year in a shorter season.
In this particular writers opinion that shouldn’t happen. It’s not that he couldn’t do it in a 1-off situation – he could. He’s done it before, as have many others in more recent history of the modern 5-man rotation – particularly once the playoff get going. But this week has already been a bit of a strange one for Trevor Bauer, who was actually set to pitch on Saturday in Detroit and went through some of his warm up routine before the game was delayed and eventually postponed. And while the on-mound results were outstanding – he picked up a complete game shutout victory in 7-innings – we saw signs that he wasn’t 100%, too.
His fastball velocity was down over 1.5 MPH. His slider velocity was down 1.8 MPH. The curveball? Yep, it was down a MPH in velocity. The cutter? 1.5 MPH down.
But it wasn’t just the velocity that tells us that he wasn’t 100%. After the game, Trevor Bauer said as much. “I was fighting myself the entire time, command wise, early, being exhausted basically the entire game from whatever you want to call yesterday,” said Bauer. “I tried to elevate my heart rate, jump my velo artificially as I can do sometimes and then I’d get really tired right away. But if I didn’t do that I was throwing 91 and I felt out of it. So it was just a constant struggle and when it was over it was finally like I could take a deep breath. But I couldn’t really take a deep breath, I couldn’t get a deep breath all day for whatever reason. It was kind of that release of the mindset, it was exhausting. It was mentally exhausting and it was physically exhausting.”
If you look around Major League Baseball today you will see a ton of pitching injuries. Guys are getting injured at rates that we don’t see in a normal season. The shorter ramp up time is likely leading to a lot of these extra injuries popping up on top of just your normal pitching injuries.
Even with Wade Miley on the injured list for the Cincinnati Reds and the team having to go to Tyler Mahle to fill out the rotation, the team has options they could lean on for Thursday. Option number one could be Tejay Antone, who hasn’t pitched in a game since he made his Major League debut on July 27th. The right-handed pitcher allowed one hit – a solo homer – in 4.1 otherwise hitless innings with a walk and five strikeouts. And he looked really good while doing so, too. There’s also Jose De Leon on the Prasco Park roster who has big league experience and could be recalled to the roster to fill in.
The Reds seem primed for success in 2020. Even with the 60-game season, and more than half of the league making the playoffs – this team will need Trevor Bauer healthy and ready to be 100% to get where they want to be. Keep him on regular rest and go with another option for Thursday’s game in Cleveland.