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Don’t judge Trevor Bauer on his first start

Let the record show I am writing this column about five
hours before D-backs rookie phenom Trevor Bauer toes the
Turner Field rubber for his big league debut.

Truthfully, I don’t know what to expect of him in his
first start. I don’t know what to expect of him, period,
because I’ve never seen him pitch. I’ve seen highlights
and I’ve seen his numbers, therefore, I’m optimistic he
won’t disappoint…over the long haul.

The Braves may have some success against Bauer Thursday,
and in my opinion there’s a better chance of that
happening than him opening up a can of Stephen Strasburg
and striking out 14 in his coming out party. I’ve been
watching baseball for 25 years and generally trust a
lineup of proven hitters over a wide-eyed rookie trying to
live up to expectations. Then again, I don’t know Bauer.

D-backs GM Kevin Towers does know him told Doug and
Wolf
this week that Bauer has “tunnel-vision.”

I hear Bauer still needs to work on how to manage a game.
He needs to be more efficient with his pitches and cut
down on his walks (46 BBs in 93 minor league innings this
season). The Braves have the fourth-best offense in the
National League and are relatively patient at the dish.
That being said, I also know Bauer has an arsenal of
filthy pitches, and 116 strikeouts in those 93 frames
would suggest as much. Towers says Bauer has “six and
seven pitch mixes” compared to “two and three” for most
guys. That’s going to be tough on any hitter, regardless
of who they are or how long they’ve been roughing up major
league pitching.

Towers is also extremely confident in Bauer’s mental
makeup, saying “This guy has met every challenge we’ve
thrown at him. He was a proven winner at ULCA, he won in
the Cal League, he won in the Southern League and he’s won
in the PCL (Pacific Coast League), one of the more
difficult places to pitch…”

That’s enough to sell me that Bauer is ready for at least
a shot at being more than a stop-gap as the D-backs figure
out how to cope with the loss of Daniel Hudson. If Bauer
goes out Thursday and throws six or seven innings of one
or two run ball, great! If he gets lit up for five or six
runs in four innings, throw him out there again in another
five days to see how he responds.

In a season that’s tried the patience of every D-backs fan
out there, enjoy this moment. This kid has the potential
to be really special, even if that special doesn’t happen
right away.