A lot of talk has come about recently regarding the possible decision the Diamondbacks are about to face in the near future of whether or not to promote Trevor Bauer, a 20 year old who is fresh off a big season in college, to the major league roster to help out in the September run (Two articles for you today - one by Kevin Goldstein over at Baseball Prospectus, the other by Jack Moore of FanGraphs). There is little doubt in my mind that Bauer is fully ready to take on a role as a Diamondback. But would it be best for the ball club, and for Bauer, to pull the trigger and give him a rotation spot?
In college, the breezes the hitters made when they faced Bauer were enough to start a tornado. He struck out 203 batters in just 136.2 innings, shattering a PAC-10 record previously held by Mark Prior (Yes, this is a Mark Prior reference). He hasn't slowed down as he turned pro, as he's currently at 25 strike outs in just 14 innings, with a 1.93 ERA.
But let's get back to those innings in college. In those 136.2 innings, they were accumulated through only 16 starts, a whopping 8.5 innings each time he takes the hill, and on one occasion, he went the distance - and then some. All told, he hurled ten complete games, and nine straight to finish the season. There's also the pitch counts, regularly over 120 and 130, and touching 140 at one point. Just how many pitchers in the majors throw that much in a single outing? UCLA head coach John Savage had him pitch that extensively because he could; his stuff never diminished as he got deeper into ball games, and his intense workout regime allowed him to stay healthy. He's a frequent long tosser, worked tirelessly every summer at the Texas Baseball Ranch, and he seems to not do anything but train train and train. His body is built for pitching. And let's not forget, his season is still not over yet. Since Jason Marqius went down with a shin injury, possibly the most obvious and most demanded replacement would be Trevor Bauer, though Wade Miley would be the one to get the first call.
So let's say the Diamondbacks do call up Trevor Bauer to start in September, and then proceed to make the playoffs. Bauer's season had actually started in January, so that's ten months of baseball. Eliminate the two months between the end of the college season and when he inked his name on the dotted line, make no mistake, that is still a very, very, long year. I've said it before, and I still stand by that statement: I don't think Trevor Bauer will get hurt with the extra work he's going to get in as a major leaguer. His top notch conditioning allows him to be the closest thing to iron man, and his body is built like it. But you certainly will never confuse me for Nostradamus, and while we like to get the impression that Bauer is indestructible, he isn't. What he is, however, is a human being, and also pitcher, a rather volatile creature and certainly not iron man. And he's also just 20 years old. No one has ever logged the kind of innings he has at that age since the days of Nolan Ryan, and pitchers fast tracked like this don't exactly have the greatest track record.
I think Trevor Bauer will be just fine with an even larger workload while pitching in September, and possibly the playoffs, and I think he'll continue on with his development as he would have whether the promotion was made or not. Flags do indeed fly forever, and nothing will seduce the baseball nut in me more than seeing Trevor Bauer pitching in a sedona red jersey in a couple of weeks. While Bauer is possibly the pitching prospect best set up to log 230 plus innings year after year after year, he's still human, and you can never know for sure what will happen with him. I just don't think it's worth the risk. He's probably the best option the Diamondbacks have to fill the void in the rotation right now, but he's also the best option they have to anchor that pitching staff for years to come, and nothing will be more catastrophic than watching Bauer suffer a major injury because his arm just could not handle that much continuous stress put on by our organization and the coaches over at UCLA. I say shut him down after the minor league season is over, and work with what other options we have. Trevor Bauer is too valuable of an asset to make a shortsighted decision that could have Armageddon esque ramifications.
I didn't want for that too drag on for too long because boring people are boring. What say you?