Cincinnati Reds: Introducing your 2020 NL Cy Young, Trevor Bauer

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the second inning of the game against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the second inning of the game against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

It’s time to crown Trevor Bauer with the 2020 NL Cy Young.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer throws weighted baseballs 115 times every day.

He nearly sawed his finger off before a playoff game.

He chucked a baseball over the centerfield fence – from the mound – before being removed from a game.

Filled with unabashed passion, power and determination, Trevor Bauer is the most interesting man in baseball. And he’s the guy who deserves this year’s NL Cy Young.

Bauer has dedicated his life to one endeavor: throwing a baseball. In addition to his on-field antics, he’s notorious for unorthodox training methods and contentious social media posts. Contrary to many professional athletes, Bauer wasn’t blessed with supernatural athletic gifts. His physique more closely resembles your friendly neighborhood dad than a professional athlete.

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“I’m not a gifted athlete, I’m not someone who just rolls out of bed in the morning and is good,” Bauer says on his YouTube channel.

In 2018, according to Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated, former teammate Michael Brantley took notice while Bauer ran sprints in the outfield: “Dude, you are so slow. Why are you running sprints? You’re not fooling anyone,” Brantley said.

“Brant, I never claimed to be fast. I’m good at two things in this world: throwing baseballs, and pissing people off,” Bauer responded.

Though Bauer doesn’t boast incredible natural gifts, he compensates with an unrelenting work ethic. He adopted an extreme long-toss routine in high school, trotting about 400 feet away from his catch partner, and heaving the ball through the air, letting out a loud grunt with each toss.

Bauer is the poster boy for Driveline Baseball – a training facility that occupies three warehouses in an industrial park just outside Seattle. Driveline is a heralded velocity school, promising pitchers an increase in pitch speed.

Bauer spent the last six winters training at Driveline, where he engineered fluid pitching mechanics and a six-pitch arsenal. Bauer’s trademark pitch: his 12-6 curveball, which fits any pitching cliché. It drops off the table, the bottom falls out of it – however you want to describe the pitch, it’s nearly unhittable, and it’s Bauer’s go-to weapon. The pitch looks like an enticing meatball at release, starting at the batter’s chest, but it abruptly plummets before reaching home plate, inducing confusion and ugly swings.

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Bauer employs a unique warmup routine. He loosens his arm with a tool he refers to as a “shoulder tube.” Bauer’s tube resembles a javelin – it’s long and skinny, with foam handles on each end, and it’s pliable. Bauer stands in the outfield and jiggles the tube by his side, pumping it like a shake weight and pressing it over his head. He straps 10-pound wrist weights on his forearms and thrusts his arms forward repeatedly. Before each inning, Bauer sprints off the mound and leaps towards the plate, hurling the ball as hard as he can – an endeavor often called a “crow hop” in the baseball world.

Bauer is also a social media maverick. He founded two popular YouTube channels – a channel called “Momentum,” and a personal channel – where he’s amassed more than 178,000 subscribers. He takes fans inside the daily life of a Big-Leaguer, shares his opinion on current MLB events, and breaks down at-bats.

Bauer has endured a turbulent MLB career. The Diamondbacks drafted him 3rd overall in 2011, and he debuted the next year, but performed terribly. He made only four big-league starts in 2012, compiled a 6.08 ERA, and Arizona shipped him to Cleveland following the season. 2013 wasn’t much better for Bauer: he toiled in the minors for most of the season, and once again, made only four starts in the Majors, this time posting a 5.29 ERA.

This is when he committed to Driveline’s program, tirelessly working on his mechanics, command, and strength. He stuck around in the Majors in 2014, and he’s been a big-league regular since. He broke out as one of the league’s best pitchers in 2018, making his first All-Star team, striking out 221 batters, and posting a 5.8 WAR.

Even with his breakout 2018 campaign, it’s been a bumpy road for Bauer – he regressed in 2019, and Cleveland banished him to Cincinnati, unwilling to put up with his off-field persona and bizarre routine.

But Bauer is flourishing in Cincy this year, and his hard work is finally coming to fruition. He leads the National League in three major categories – ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP. Those stats respectively: 1.73 ERA, 100 strikeouts in 73 innings, with a 0.79 WHIP.

Bauer’s team is teetering on the edge of playoff contention, clinging to the last NL playoff spot. The Reds matched up with division rival Milwaukee on Wednesday, with both teams tied in the standings and that final playoff spot on the line.

Bauer took the ball on three-days rest, and made an emphatic statement. He shoved an array of unhittable pitches down the Brewers throat. He finished with the following stat line: 8 innings pitched, 1 run allowed, and 12 strikeouts.

Bauer struck out the side in the 6th inning, which highlighted his night and showcased why he deserves the NL Cy Young. Opening up the inning, Brewers catcher Jacob Nottingham reached on an error, then outfielder Avisail Garcia lined a single into centerfield. The pressure was on. Two on and no outs. But Bauer clutched up.

First, he struck out 2018 MVP Christian Yelich with his signature curveball – arching the pitch from Yelich’s head to the bottom of the strike zone. Yelich whiffed, and Bauer passionately yelled “Yeah!”

Next in line: Clean-up hitter Jed Gyorko. Gyorko waved at Bauer’s slider, leaning forward and extending his bat with one hand, desperately attempting to make contact. After this strikeout Bauer roared like a lion, shouting “Yeah,” followed by “Let’s go!” while vigorously pumping his fist.
Lastly, on a 1-2 count, Bauer went to his curve again – this time burying it in the dirt. Daniel Vogelbach swung over the pitch and stomped back to the dugout. Bauer dropped his hands to his side, clenched his fists, and yowled “YEAHHHHH” at the top of his lungs.

Vogelbach turned around and stared at Bauer. Bauer stared right back. He kept his eyes locked on Vogelbach and glared into his soul.

Bauer’s passionate displays are a pitcher’s version of a bat flip. A pitcher’s way to show off after dominating an at-bat. A pitcher’s way to savor the moment. Bauer pitches with a chip on his shoulder and a cloak of determination on his face. He pitches like he has something to prove and he makes his point over and over, loud and clear.

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Trevor Bauer is the most interesting man in baseball. He’s also the best pitcher in the National League. It’s time to crown him with the Cy Young.