Note: No, we’re not becoming a MLB Draft Preview website. With a week off for the Bears, it’s a good time to take a closer look at their opponent.
We’ve already taken a look at one UCLA ace in Gerrit Cole; now we break down the Robin to his Batman, Trevor Bauer. He’ll be UCLA’s Saturday starter, and he’s a definite first round pick in the MLB Draft.
Bauer pitched at Hart High School in Valencia, where he went undefeated as a senior at 12-0. He complemented his record with a .79 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 70 innings. Trevor skipped his senior year of high school to pitch early for the Bruins. He was overshadowed coming as a freshman by Gerrit Cole, but soon became the best freshman on the staff, and in the country. He won Freshman Pitcher of the Year after a year that saw him go 9-3 with a 2.99 ERA. But he was just getting started; his sophomore year was probably better. While his ERA jumped to 3.02, he set a UCLA single season strikeout record with 165 and garnered a 12-3 record. For that performance, he earned Second Team All-American honors. This year has been his best. He has gone from a strikeout artist to an absolute dominating pitcher, having a 10-2 record with a 1.40 ERA this season. He broke last year’s record with ease, as he already has 167 strikeouts and that number will only rise. He’s fifth nationally in FIP, so it’s not as if he’s been very lucky either.
Bauer has been compared to Tim Lincecum in a lot in terms of his delivery; it’s not a spitting image, but their mechanics are very similar. Both are shorter righties who maximize torque in their delivery. Bauer has a 2 seam fastball between 92-94 that has late life boring in on the hitter. His change-up isn’t great in terms of movement, but it’s got enough velocity difference to keep a hitter off balance. He also sprinkles a curveball in every once and a while that sits around 76. His out pitch is his slider which has good sweep across the zone and has been described as “blatantly unfair”. As for Bauer as a whole, he’s been described as “Most complete college starting pitcher I’ve seen in 10 years” by Baseball Beginnings. This kid is the real deal.
Bauer is a tougher pitcher to gameplan for than Cole, simply because he’s less predictable. He’ll throw the breaking ball in any count, and doesn’t have any patterns. He leads UCLA in walks, but he doesn’t necessarily have control problems. Considering 130 pitches is typical business for Bauer, being patient for the sake of raising his pitch count is not a good idea. However, drawing walks and getting runners anyway possible is a good idea. Bauer has a high leg kick (opening up stolen base opportunities) and has more problems throwing strikes out of the stretch, so getting a runner on and converting is enormous. If I had to give a gameplan to a hitter, it’s probably to be patient with him. He’s got great stuff, but he has a tendency to leave hanging pitches up and he’ll walk batters. Be ready to swing at fat pitches early, but don’t force the issue.
Trevor Bauer may not be the better MLB prospect, but he’s a far better college pitcher than Gerrit Cole. The Bears won’t have it easy against him, but if they can be patient and wait for him to hang a breaking ball or leave a fastball at the belt then they should be able to get a few runs off of him. Go Bears! Take down Bauer!