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What's Wrong with Trevor Bauer? | July

Trevor Bauer has made four starts for the Diamondbacks this year, and the results so far have not been very good. In those four starts, he has only been able to accumulate 16.1 Innings, while he has walked 13 batters and hit one more. He also has allowed two home runs and been charged with two wild pitches. The overall numbers show an ugly 6.06 ERA (5.15 FIP) and a 1.65 WHIP. There has been one obvious problem for Bauer so far - he has had very poor command of his breaking pitches.

Using Bauer's data from the Brooks Baseball PitchFX site,  we can see that Bauer has thrown his curve ball 42 times, out of 293 pitches (18.3%). Out of these 42 curves, 28 (66.7%) have been called balls. Of the remaining 14 curves. 4 were swung on and missed, 2 were fouled off, 6 were put into play, and only 2 were "called" strikes by the umpire.  As a point of comparison, here are the percentages of curves called for balls by other Diamondbacks' pitchers:

Pitcher Curve - Called Ball Curve Frequency
Wade Miley 40.7% 2.0%
David Hernandez 42.5% 25.0%
Ian Kennedy 44.8% 12.0%
Trevor Cahill 46.8% 9.0%
Joe Saunders 47.1% 13.0%
Josh Collmenter 52.9% 25.9%
Patrick Corbin 55.3% 14.0%
Trevor Bauer 66.7% 14.0%

Since Bauer has been unable to consistently throw his curve for strikes, batters have basically been able to ignore his curve and wait for a fastball or changeup. The table below shows how often batters swing at a pitch from each of the Diamondbacks' starters - Bauer has the lowest Swing % of the group, and his 39.8 Swing % makes him one of only 3 NL starters below 40% (YGallardo and VWorley are the two others).

Pitcher Swing %
Ian Kennedy 50.8%
Wade Miley 49.2%
Josh Collmenter 46.4%
Patrick Corbin 44.7%
Joe Saunders 43.7%
Trevor Cahill 40.4%
Trevor Bauer 39.8%

One factor to consider with Bauer is that he has been battling a minor groin injury for the last several weeks.  He has tweeted several times that his velocity, and perhaps his command as well, have been affected by this problem. But Bauer is still confident that he can get back on track, saying after Tuesday's game "I just couldn't throw the ball where I wanted to. I'll fix it. I'll be fine." He will probably get one more chance this Sunday at home against the Astros. Hopefully that start will go well for Bauer, but if it does not, the Diamondbacks may decide to bring back Patrick Corbin (AAA: 3-2, 3.57 ERA, 36 K/13 BB in 40.1 IP) or give Tyler Skaggs an opportunity (AAA: 2-0, 2.65 ERA, 12K/3BB in 17 IP). With the team 7 Games Behind the division leading Giants, they can't afford to wait for Bauer much longer.

Edit: Reports from Nick Piecoro on Wednesday morning say that reliever Jonathan Albaladejo is in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse, which probably means that Bauer is being sent down. This would put Josh Collmenter back in the rotation, unless the team calls up Corbin or Skaggs for Sunday's game.