Dodgers’ spin-rate culprit is painfully obvious after latest evidence

Thomas Carannante
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 28: Umpires check the hat and glove of Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers for foreign substances after the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 28: Umpires check the hat and glove of Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers for foreign substances after the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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The Los Angeles Dodgers made Trevor Bauer the highest-paid player on an average annual value basis this offseason, which many viewed as a mistake.

But it depends why you think it was a mistake. Because Bauer isn’t that good? Because it was too much money?

In reality, it doesn’t matter. The Dodgers wanted to get better, and they did. It’s just unfortunate the San Francisco Giants are the best team in baseball and the San Diego Padres are very much living up to the hype.

If we’re going to diagnose the primary “problem” with Bauer, it’s the attention he brings, whether it’s on-field antics, postgame commentary or … his reputation with “sticky stuff.”

The Dodgers were clearly equipped to deal with all of that, but the organization surely did not see the long-winded sticky stuff controversy rearing its head in this capacity this early in the season.

Here we are, though. And Bauer continues to be a prominent figure in this whole mess.

It’s clear Trevor Bauer is the main culprit in regards to the Dodgers’ decreased spin rate.

That spin rate chart is provided by Baseball Prospectus. This could be the smoking gun, if the Sports Illustrated report on the increase in each team’s spin rate (the Dodgers led the way with a 7% bump between 2020 and 2021) wasn’t enough for the folks at home.

Is this a felony? No. Far from it. This is MLB’s fault for letting it get to this point. But this is the conversation we’re having, and if we’re being provided evidence, it’s worth talking about … especially since Bauer’s record-setting contract came on the heels of a career season that saw his spin rate hike exponentially.

We don’t even have to fully examine spin rate to find a difference, either. Shortly after MLB instituted the ban on any foreign substance, Bauer’s immediate two starts were his worst of 2021. He allowed a combined seven earned runs on 15 hits and six walks in back-to-back losses. He’s settled in since then (somewhat), but the results all-around have been obvious.

Bauer is back on track now, twirling three straight quality starts, notching 24 strikeouts over his last 19 innings of work. The Dodgers are 2-1 in those games. Perhaps he’s already adjusted to life without sticky stuff (or he’s sweating extra hard into his rosin), but it’s worth wondering if he’ll be has effective and consistent without it, considering he’s … never really been effective or consistent for notable stretches throughout his career.

For now, his 2.59 ERA and 137 strikeouts across 17 starts is sufficient. But we have an entire half of a season remaining. There’s no telling what the results might be over his next 17 starts as he (and every other MLB pitcher) adjusts to life without the sticky aid.

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