There seems to be a reoccurring theme with Trevor Bauer's approach to opposing hitters in 2017.
Not only did the 26-year-old right-hander allow 4+ runs in a start for the fourth time this season on Monday night in Detroit, but he also seemed to throw multiple balls to either the top left or lower right regions outside of the strike zone, a trend that is evident in each of the poor outings this year...
April 8 at Arizona (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K)
April 14 vs. Detroit (5 IP, 8 H, 6 R/ER, 2 BB, 6 K)
April 26 vs. Houston (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 K)
May 1 at Detroit (4 IP, 7 H, 7 R/ER, 5 BB, 3 K)
There are zero blue dots (balls) at the bottom left region outside of the strike zone and rarely are there blue dots at the top right region outside of the strike zone.
What exactly does this mean and why does the location of a ball correlate with a pitcher's struggles?
Bauer's five-pitch mix is becoming a little too predictable...
When facing the left-handed hitting Tyler Collins in the first inning, Bauer did not have control of his fastball as he missed up-and-away on three different occasions. Collins laid off every pitch in this region, knowing that the umpire wasn't going to give in to Bauer's mislocated four-seamer off the black...
Bauer's ball was either tailing away from Collins or his release point may have been slightly early. Nevertheless, the Tigers right-fielder did not bite at any of the pitches as he let Bauer issue a walk to the second batter of the ballgame.
In the second inning, Bauer missed once again on an up-and-away four-seam fastball on the first pitch to put Collins in a favorable count. As the at-bat progressed, Collins noticed that Bauer continued to miss off the plate before he finally got a pitch to his liking on a 2-2 fastball right down the middle...
Once again, Bauer primarily worked in the upper-third of the strike zone and exclusively used his fastball in this particular instance. In looking at Collins' numbers this year, it appears that he hits balls up-and-away at much higher exit-velocities than the rest of the strike zone vs. right-handed pitching...
If Collins hits the ball hardest when it is up-and-away, then he likely sees the ball better than ever when it is placed in that location. His ability to lay off fastballs in this region paid dividends in the form of a game-changing three-run homer off Bauer in the second inning, a shot that would yield an insurmountable advantage.
Bauer is going to have to mix up his arsenal and start working in different portions of the strike zone if he wants to be successful rather than predictable. By throwing 12 consecutive fastballs to Collins - all of which were above the belt - he became susceptible to deep counts and more confident approaches.
“A lot of deep counts,” said manager Terry Francona to reporters. “After they’ve seen four, five (or) six pitches, you got to make almost a perfect pitch. Every once in a while he does, but when he doesn’t, they squared up a lot of balls.”
Collins wasn't the only one who took note of this glaring flaw of a consistent location mistake with the same exact pitch...
Between Collins (up-and-away fastballs) and Justin Upton (down-and-away cutters), Bauer just didn't have the command he needed on a pair of walks in the first inning.
The former third overall pick will need to diversify his pitch locations moving forward in the season if he wants to keep hitters off-balanced.
By mixing up pitches and working in different portions of the zone, Bauer will be much harder to predict and an effective hurler for the many years to come.