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Second Thoughts Game #25: Indians 6, Phillies 0

Everything's starting to click as Cleveland approaches .500

Second Thoughts Game #25: Indians 6, Phillies 0
Ryan Raburn (Photo: Yahoo!)
May 2, 2013
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Pre-Game Commentary

The Indians entered Wednesday’s game on a three-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 33-5 in that span. For seemingly the first time all season the team has been able to get their offense and pitching staff on track at the same time. Trevor Bauer was called up to make his second start of the season in this game. After allowing seven walks in five innings during his first start, one of the storylines in this game was whether or not Bauer would show better control than last time around.

The Whole Nine

1. Once again, Trevor Bauer struggled mightily with his control. He allowed six walks in five innings. The problem is he can’t spot his fastball. He left a ton of fastballs high in the zone. It seemed every time he dialed it up into the mid-90’s the ball carried on him. It’s a mechanical problem that he’ll need to continue working on in AAA. He’s still not ready.

2. Now for the positive, Bauer picked up his first win as an Indian by throwing five scoreless innings and giving up only one hit. It was clear today why he’s so highly regarded.  The control of his secondary pitches was great, a large contrast to that of his fastball, and his curveball and changeup resulted in the majority of his strikeouts. His poise was exceptional once again, and he was consistently able to make pitches to get out trouble. That’s a great trait for a young pitcher. There’s just one thing missing with Bauer, that fastball control. When he gets that straightened out, watch out.

3. The calendar just turned over to the month of May, and we’ve seen about all of the depth that the Indians have in their starting pitching staff. Corey Kluber is in the rotation, Trevor Bauer has now made two starts, and Carlos Carrasco has made one. Even with that said the pitching staff as a whole is second in the American League with a .235 opponent’s batting average against. These guys are holding it together despite the injury to Brett Myers and the struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez.

4. You can’t stop Ryan Raburn, you can only hope to contain him! Who would of thought when the offense woke up it would be driven by Ryan Raburn? The former minor league free agent has 12 hits in his last 14 at-bats and right now, even when he’s not making good contact, the balls are still falling in for hits. It’s rare to ever see a player get this hot. He’s a long way from the whoever that was playing in his jersey for Detroit last year.

5. Two other players that have really heated up lately are Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera. Brantley is hitting .370 over his last seven games with 10 hits. Over that same period Cabrera is hitting .450 with nine hits. It’s looking like the last piece of the puzzle is Jason Kipnis, who has also shown some life lately as well.

6. How good has the Indians bench been this year? We haven’t had a good bench in a long time, but the front office assembled a pretty good one for Terry Francona this year. The roster as a whole has great positional flexibility that allows Francona to mix and match to give guys days off when needed without having a big drop off in production. This game was a great example. Only three players from the Indians Opening Day lineup were playing their everyday position, if they were playing at all. Yet, the team still scored six runs and played great defense behind Trevor Bauer.

7. With that said, I’m not sure what to make of the explanation of Nick Swisher’s shoulder injury. If Swisher can’t be shuttled back and forth between right field and first base, it limits Carlos Santana’s ability to move from behind the plate without having to DH, forces Mark Reynolds to play more 3B, Ryan Raburn to play more right field, etc. There’s a multiplier effect to something like this. Let’s hope this isn’t anything too serious.

8. Interesting item to note: Right now Drew Stubbs’ walk rate, strikeout rate, ISO, and BABIP, are right about at his career averages. He’s had a couple of good games in a row (was robbed of a HR in this game), but the numbers you see right now might be about what you can expect of him moving forward. He’s still on pace for a 2+ WAR season, which I'm sure the Indians would be more than happy with.

9. Nick Hagadone surely has a future in this league as a left-handed set-up man, but right now he can’t even crack the Indians bullpen. Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw are also future late-game arms and these guys are eating innings in blowouts for us. In a lot of cases Indians games have become five inning contests. If the team has the lead after five the bullpen can take it from there. It’s early so this might be getting ahead of myself, but this has the makings of being one, if not the, best bullpen in my lifetime.

Post-Game Commentary

In a way, I don’t want to see the off-day come tomorrow. This team is hot right now. Another team-wide shut out and another great performance by the offense against a very good pitcher in Cliff Lee. We’re ever so close to getting back to the .500 mark. After the off-day, Justin Masterson will face off against rookie Pedro Hernandez as the Indians open a three-game series against the Twins.

User Comments

May 3, 2013 - 9:01 AM EDT
Yeah, that is a sign that Bauer is very focused. Something guys like Carmona, Jimenez, and Carrasco could learn a lesson from. If he finds any semblance of fastball command, he's going to be very good for a long time.
May 3, 2013 - 8:56 AM EDT
Bauer said he focuses better with men on base because he hates to allow runs. Not to excuse the six walks, but that's a great ability to have. He doesn't get rattled with runners on but bears down and pitches better in those situations.

Which means that even on days when he doesn't have his best command and is walking hitters he still has a chance to pitch effectively and limit the runs allowed, like he did against the Phils.

This guy could be really good when he puts it all together, and it looks like that could be very soon. IIRC, he only has given up 8 walks in 24 innings at Columbus, so he may have been just a little amped up in his two Cleveland starts.

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