The Cincinnati Reds may use Trevor Bauer on short rest this season, but it will ideally be luxury and not necessity.
A 60-game 2020 MLB season promises to stretch convention and push outside the box thinking. To that end, according to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson said the team is considering starting Trevor Bauer every fourth day.
Bauer is apparently open to the idea of pitching on three days rest, with a professed intent to differentiate himself on the free agent market as a pitcher who can do it capably. He set a career-high in 2019 with 213 innings pitched, and he has made at least 27 starts and pitched at least 175 innings in five straight seasons.
Per Nightengale, Bauer said he has made his feelings about pitching more abundantly clear to Johnson.
“I’ve applied some friendly pressure to him, I guess is how you’d say it,” Bauer said. “But basically letting him know that I want to pitch as much as possible as often as possible. You don’t have to worry about wearing down over the course of a long season. We’ve got a two-month sprint and a month of playoffs.”
Bauer wanting to pitch as much as he can is admirable, and his out-front thoughts about it are expected from him. But the Reds have a deep starting rotation, with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray leading the way alongside Bauer.
Free agent signing Wade Miley will be helpful, with Anthony DeSclafani further removed from injury-wrecked seasons in 2017 and 2018. For further depth beyond those five guys, which stands to be important with the uncertainly of COVID-19, Tyler Mahle (9.0 K/9, 3.99 xFIP last year) is the proverbial next man up.
A 60-game campaign averages out to 12 starts for five starters, but things are never that cut-and-dry even in the best of outside circumstances. The Reds apparently did talk at one point about using a six-man rotation in a short season, so mixing Mahle in here or there is on the radar.
As long as he can physically do it, and pitch well (obviously), Bauer may wind up being used on short rest often this season. But for the Reds, with acknowledgement of big picture uncertainty, that is lined up to be a decision based on luxury rather than dictated by necessity.