Do you believe in the power of Trevor Bauer?
Look. I think the Trevor Bauer story is neat. But I think many of us are getting carried away with the early returns. Last week, Bauer carried a no-hitter through six innings against the Astros, striking out 11 and walking five. Ultimately, he was taken out because of a high pitch count, and you couldn't blame Terry Francona for that. Cleveland almost got the combined no-hitter, but Jed Lowrie ended it with a home run in the ninth.
The 24-year-old right-hander was on the bump again on Wednesday, picking up his second win of the season against the White Sox. This time, he held Chicago to two runs on four hits in six innings, while striking out eight and walking four. He finished with 103 pitches, including 66 for strikes. Through two games, Bauer is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 12 innings. He also has nine walks, which is what concerns you the most. In the spring, Bauer only walked one batter in 27 2/3 innings. Nobody expected that to carry over into the regular season, but you wanted to at least see better control.
I'm not sure we've seen anything different from Bauer in two starts this year than we have seen from previous years. You have to take the bad with the good, and I think the walks will catch up to Bauer when he faces better competition. From watching his first two starts, I still expect an up-and-down season from Bauer and I would look to sell high whenever and wherever possible. He gets the White Sox again in his next start, so if he can hold them down again I might have to re-analyze. Now that they've seen Bauer once, I think next start could be a much different result.
Felix Hernandez, who left his first start against the A's after five innings with a sore quadriceps muscle in his right leg, will make his next scheduled start Saturday at Safeco Field against the Rangers. Deep breathes. The news isn't as optimistic for former fantasy ace Justin Verlander (triceps), who had to cut his simulated game short after 45 pitches Wednesday because of fatigue. I guess it's good that Verlander is experiencing fatigue and not pain, but this might prevent Verlander from being activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday. It's still unclear when he'll return.
Alfredo Simon blanked the Pirates for eight innings Wednesday, holding Pittsburgh to just two hits in a 1-0 win. Simon didn't walk any and struck out two in the victory. In two starts with Detroit, Simon is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, but he's bringing little to the table in terms of strikeouts, with only five strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.
Simon had a solid 2014, winning 15 games and posting a 3.44 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with the Reds; however, last year's numbers appear very fluky. He finished with a .265 BABIP, 4.33 FIP ad 4.05 xFIP. If you can find a taker, sell Simon. You shouldn't expect a sub-4.00 ERA in the tougher American League, and he isn't a significant source of strikeouts.
Steven Souza: American League Rookie of the Year? It's possible, as the 25-year-old is up to two home runs and two steals after an ugly spring showing. Souza hit in the No. 2 spot on Wednesday, collecting two hits, two runs and three RBIs, including a solo home run off veteran Mark Buehrle. He's now up to .276/.382/.517 through 34 plate appearances.
While Souza has an excellent track record of double-digit power and speed numbers in his professional career, I don't expect his batting average to stay much higher than .250 if he doesn't cut down on the strikeouts. Right now, he has 13 strikeouts in nine games and has a 32.7 percent strikeout rate in his very brief major league career. A .250 hitter with the potential of 15/20 is still plenty valuable, however, and I think he should be owned in far more leagues.
Nelson Cruz hit a home run in his fifth consecutive game. I'm beginning to think 40 home runs are still in reach.
Carlos Gomez left Wednesday night's game with a right hamstring injury after beating out a relay throw to first base in the ninth inning. Gomez left with trainers and is already ruled out for Thursday. We'll know more about the extent of his injury, hopefully sometime later today. Gerardo Parra would see extra playing time if Gomez were to miss any significant time.
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