Opinion: It’s time to admit I was wrong about Trevor Bauer

Jack Kopanski

For the past five years, I’ve let out an audible groan every time I’ve seen Trevor Bauer listed as the probable starter for the Cleveland Indians. The pitcher with the high socks, the wonky windup and, more often than not, the sky-high ERA, has continually driven me crazy.

I’ve been a vehement Bauer hater for quite some time, throwing out words such as “inconsistent,” “bust” and others that are not so nice. Every time he took the hill, it was with anticipation that he would walk eight, give up six runs and last all of three innings, and then be pleasantly surprised when he gave the bullpen a lead to work with.

I made the argument near the start of the year that his home should have been in the bullpen. He had success there to start last season, and the fewer innings he pitched, the better.

With only about a month left until the postseason, though, his performance has gotten to a point where I am able to say words I never thought I would hear myself say: I was wrong about Trevor Bauer.

I’m not ready to give him a plaque in Cooperstown yet — not by a long shot. But you can’t deny the stats that he is putting up this season.

He has already set a career-high total in wins with 15, a number good enough to lead the Indians and share the American League lead with Boston’s Cy Young candidate Chris Sale.

His 4.39 ERA, while nothing pretty, is hanging right around his career average of 4.41. He’s also done a good job of limiting walks this season and needs just one more strikeout to set a new career-high in K’s.

The combination of players on this year’s team is a key to Bauer’s success, though.

The offense is providing him with ample, consistent run support to work with, and he’s been able to keep a lead into the sixth and seventh inning, allowing the Tribe’s shutdown bullpen to go to work and do what they do best. He has been the definition of a reliable No. 3 starter.

That last sentence got caught in my throat a little bit. 

Bauer has always had the potential to become a great starter in this league, but during his time in Cleveland, potential is where he stopped.

The conversation, whenever he would struggle, would always turn to him being the third overall pick in 2011 and just needing to wait for him to turn into what everyone hoped he would.

The way I see it, the wait is over. The serviceable Trevor Bauer we see now is the serviceable Trevor Bauer we’re hopefully going to have for years to come. 

I will, however, continue to say that Bauer has got to be one of the least likeable players on the team.

He’s an excuse-maker with an all-around off-putting personality. The beauty of it is, though, he’s not out to become anybody’s best friend. 

His outings aren’t always pretty, but I’ll be damned if he hasn’t made a believer out of me this year.

Jack Kopanski is the general assignment editor, contact him at [email protected].