But will Bauer be able to transcend MLB’s latest crackdown and continue innovating on the mound? He certainly seems to believe he’ll be able to overcome whatever the league is doing to level the playing field.
After Sunday’s start in Atlanta — Bauer went six innings, allowed three earned runs, walked four, and whiffed seven — the righty didn’t verbally admit to handling things differently after MLB’s attempt to police the use of sticky grip-enhancing substances.
He did, however, try to acknowledge that he believed in his own ability to adjust to … whatever’s going to be mandated.
Bauer’s fastball spin rate during Sunday’s loss was 222 RPMs below his average, and he allowed several harder-than-average exit velocity liners off the pitch in the early innings of the otherwise unremarkable game.
After the contest wrapped, when confronted with this information, Bauer was somewhat evasive — though he tacitly acknowledged “fairness,” as he often does when discussing why he did or didn’t start manipulating his spin rate following the Astros staff normalizing it.
Will Dodgers get same Trevor Bauer after his spin rate plummeted?
Bauer, always enigmatic, didn’t seem terribly let down by the fact that the league is apparently fed up with the proliferation of substance use by the game’s top pitchers, bottom feeders, and everyone in between.
As he’s always claimed before when confronted about his RPM leaps, he’s simply innovating on the form that MLB has clearly deemed acceptable over the past few years. If it’s suddenly going to be out of bounds to doctor the ball this way, he believes in his own ability to compensate.
When asked specifically about his rebound potential on Sunday afternoon, Bauer pointed to 2018 as an example of what he was able to do prior to experimenting with substances … though, once again, he didn’t acknowledge he’d ever been using them.
That season? Bauer dominated the AL Central, going 12-6 with a remarkable 2.21 ERA. However, the Indians were a step below the Astros, who were a step below the Red Sox and Yankees, and most MLB fans have memory-holed that season.
Of course, the wheels fell off in Bauer’s 2019 meltdown prior to his phenomenal rebound in 2020 without fans, without pressure, and potentially with a hefty dose of Bauer’s Little Helper.
Will we see an ace type for the rest of 2021, or a competent No. 3? Luckily for the Dodgers, they have plenty of wiggle room to mess around here.