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Reds' Trevor Bauer thinks team can contend beyond 2019

By
Alex Butler
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer had a career-best 2.21 ERA in 2018 with the Cleveland Indians. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer had a career-best 2.21 ERA in 2018 with the Cleveland Indians. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Star pitcher Trevor Bauer, who only signs one-year contracts because he wants to play for a winning team, told UPI he thinks the Cincinnati Reds can contend beyond the 2019 season.

"I think we have a lot of good talent in here," Bauer told UPI. "I think we have pitched really well. We have a lot of young guys who are going to continue to get better. We have a lot of good leadership on that front. We have a lot of guys who are having good years offensively, as well."

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Bauer's Reds are 70-81 and sit in fourth place in the National League Central. He joined the team as part of a blockbuster trade in July. The 2018 All-Star posted a 3.79 ERA in 24 starts for the Indians this season before the trade. He has a 2-4 record with a 6.39 ERA in nine starts for the Reds.

Cincinnati began the 2019 season with more optimism than in previous years after acquiring veterans Sonny Gray, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and others during the off-season. The Bauer move excited the clubhouse even more.

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"I remember initially everyone kinda looking at each other with the wide eyes like 'holy [expletive], we just got Bauer," Gray said. "I think guys were like extremely excited, but I think it was more of like a holy [expletive] moment in a good way. I'm definitely excited he is here."

Young Reds arms

Bauer, 28, might not have great stats this season compared to his career norm, but he does add talent and experience to the Reds' young and talented starting rotation. He joins Gray, who is 10-7 with a 2.80 ERA, and All-Star Luis Castillo, who is 15-6 with a 3.22 ERA.

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"We have a lot of young guys, a lot of talent," Bauer said. "Obviously, watching Sonny and Luis throw this year, the results speak for themselves.

"They are two of the more dominant pitches in the league as a whole, not just the National League. Watching it is fun, just seeing the consistency and the quality of stuff."

Bauer said the most important factor for Reds pitchers is trying to help each other by talking about pitching. Bauer takes notes on dominant pitches from other players around the league and add adjustments to his pitching arsenal based on his observations.

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He has picked up tips from former teammates Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman and Castillo after watching their pitches bewilder batters. The Reds also are students of assistant pitching coach Caleb Cotham, who worked with Driveline Baseball before being hired prior to the 2019 season.

Driveline operates facilities and uses data to develop players. The program uses cameras to study pitching motions and helps pitchers develop a healthy and high velocity at any age.

Sharing information

The Reds share a lot of information related to pitching. Bauer said he fits well into that environment. Unlike some teams in the league, the Reds' starting pitchers watch each other's bullpen sessions to gather more information.

Gray started focusing more this year on the data behind pitches. He attributes his increased understanding to Cotham, who presented him with charts and more data that showed what pitches do and where pitches go.

"I learned if I can make a slider go that way more, it might be better ... [Bauer] separates his curveball and his slider really well," Gray said.

"We were definitely venturing into that stuff before he got here for sure. But he is the 'OG' when it comes to that. It was cool."

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The open-source type sharing of information and observation has helped Bauer fit in very quickly, despite his limited time with the Reds. Bauer also said the Reds clubhouse is open to letting players be themselves. He knew several of his new teammates before the trade, including Gray, with whom he played on Team USA. He said his integration with the team happened faster than any other team he has been on.

"It was pretty quick, probably the quickest of my career, dating back to high school ball," Bauer said. "Everyone has been super accommodating and welcoming and they have a winning culture here. The information has been great."

Gray called Bauer "The OG" [original gangster] when studying aspects of pitch movement and adjustments. He also envies Bauer at times, but said his presence ultimately improves the team's pitching staff.

"You get to watch and learn from someone that you envy at times, definitely," Gray said.

"I think he has definitely made guys better just from being able to learn from someone that has maybe a little bit different philosophy and ideas on things, but who is to say they're wrong? Who's to say you can't take one thing or two things [from other pitchers] and implement them into your game?"

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Staying with the Reds

Bauer plans to keep signing one-year contracts for the remainder of his career, meaning he won't be signing a long-term pact with the Reds. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season.

His one-year deal is for $13 million, and he is eligible for arbitration in 2020.

The Reds haven't reached the postseason since 2013, and failed the reach the 70-win plateau in four consecutive seasons before their 2019 campaign. More wins for the Reds likely increases the team's ability to keep Bauer around beyond 2020. Bauer thinks the Reds have the players to lead and compete.

"It takes a whole clubhouse, not just one person," Bauer said. "That's going to be one of the things that's going to be important is figuring out who those people are and who fits into those roles.

"I think we have the guys here. I think we have the talent, the information, the staff and all of that can contribute to that culture. It's exciting. It's fun to try to build that."

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