Trevor Bauer sends the message that it’s okay for pitchers to start on short rest.
The trend in the modern era of Major League Baseball is to limit the number of innings pitchers throw to protect their arms. Cincinnati Reds starter Trevor Bauer is trying to take it in the other direction, and he made a big statement why on Wednesday night.
Bauer, pitching on three days rest for the first time this season, pitched eight innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, giving up just four hits and one earned run while striking out 12 in Cincinnati’s 6-1 win. He became the first pitcher to go at least eight innings after throwing more than five just four days earlier since knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on July 29, 2010. Bauer is the first pitcher with 12 strikeouts in a start on short rest since Pedro Astacio of the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 1, 2000.
It was a strong start, one that likely cemented his hold on the NL Cy Young Award with only four days left in the regular season. And he’s prepared to do it again. Whatever it takes to get the Reds to the playoffs — they’re currently the seventh seed in the NL — and to make a deep run into October once they get there.
Anyone who has watched Bauer’s popular Youtube vlogs knows how meticulous he is about taking care of himself. He checks his blood every morning. He monitors his sleep patterns, keeps detailed records of what he eats and spends long hours doing exercises to strengthen his arm. He knows his own body and what it can and can’t do. He’s ready to start on short rest if the Reds need him to, and believes he might actually be a better pitcher if he threw more often.
“I could talk an hour about that. But I collect like close to 50 metrics on myself every single day, and they all point to this being the most optimal way to get my body prepared to pitch,” he said on Tuesday, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “So I guess a scientific approach to it I have instead of just a feeling like, ‘Oh, I could do this.’ I have actual numbers to back it up.”
A pitcher able to start on three days rest, once common in baseball, is a creature that’s quickly going extinct. Last season, pitchers threw at least five innings on three days rest 21 times; 30 years ago, they did it 175 times. Bauer has only started on short rest twice before in his career, once in 2019 and 2018, respectively. He had a 6.00 ERA in those starts and never pitched more than five innings.
Bauer, though, believes it should come back and has been an advocate of clubs adopting a four-man rotation. But first, he needs to lead the way and show it can be done. So far, at least on Wednesday, it was mission accomplished.