Strikeouts are sexy. But walking guys is a turnoff.
Arizona Diamondbacks rookie pitcher Trevor Bauer made it to the major leagues highly touted and with quite the pedigree. He has dominated at all levels, although in Triple-A he did not consistently dominate. Since coming to the major leagues, he has been inconsistent. In three of his four starts he has been subpar. In the other he was very good.
His major issue? Control and managing his pitch count. He has utter confidence in his ability, almost to a fault. Catcher Miguel Montero says that most rookie pitchers that come up are very eager for their catcher to guide them through games and the opposing teams' lineups. Wade Miley, for example, with all the success that he has had, has yet to shake off a pitch that Miggy calls. Correct that -- Miley has shaken off pitches when Montero instructs him to, just to keep batters on their toes.
Bauer, on the other hand, wants to do things his way. He likes to strike guys out. The problem is that it is harder to strike out hitters in the major leagues. As a result, he throws more pitches than he should, he walks some guys and he can't pitch deep into games.
Tuesday's start illustrates this. His command was shaky, then he calmed down and then was shaky again .
In the first inning, he started off with a walk, then Stephen Drew made an error. He gets a strikeout, then walks a guy and the first runner scores on a wild pitch. A double play ends the inning,
In the second inning, he strikes out two and sets the side down in order.
In the third is where the issues of not getting the pitch he needed. he quickly gets two outs, but then can't get the third out.
Bauer gets ahead of Zack Cozart 1-2 and walks him. He gets ahead of Brandon Phillips 0-2 and walks him. After giving up the three-run homer to Ryan Ludwig, Scott Rolen also walked after falling behind 0-2.
No pitcher should walk a guy after getting ahead 0-2 or 1-2. The times that happens are when the pitcher is trying to hard to strike the guy out.
On the radio broadcast of the game, Jeff Munn commented that Bauer doesn't necessarily care about his walks, but rather balls being hit hard. In Bauer's defense, after the game, he did lament the walks, saying he put five guys on, which he can't do to be successful.
But the very hard hit ball by Ludwig would not have happened if he doesn't walk two guys.
What young pitchers like Bauer have to learn is that any out is as good as a strikeout most of the time. When he figures that out and learns he can pitch longer and more successfully by not pitching for the 'K' with every batter, he will not give up the three-run bombs.
It's early. He's young. He'll get it. He always has. But it may not be this season.
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