The Cleveland Indians started their season under the radar as the American League Central spotlight shined on the defending World Series Champions the Kansas City Royals.
The Chicago White Sox jumped out of the starting gate playing exceptional baseball to start the season. However, the Chisox are now sitting at 37-37 and the Royals at 38-34.
The Indians have plugged away and now sit atop the AL Central standings by four games over the Royals with an overall record of 42-30 having won 7 of their past 10.
One reason for the good play of the Indians is pitcher Trevor Bauer. This past week, Bauer pitched a complete game 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since late April, when Bauer became a member of the starting rotation he is 4-2 with an ERA of 2.96. Bauer’s career numbers are not impressive. He entered this season at 17-22 for his career with an ERA of 4.22.
He was placed in the bullpen to start the season giving Cody Anderson his starting rotation spot.
Rumors abounded about the Indians being interested in a trade involving Bauer prior to the start of the season. However, Cleveland officials off the record said they were never looking to trade the pitcher.
Cleveland was only giving Bauer some time to mature and knew that other pitchers on the team such as Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco did not become established starters in the big leagues until they turned 27.
Bauer was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of UCLA in 2011 with the No. 3 pick. He was 13-4 in 156 innings in the minors before being rushed to the big leagues during 2012.
Things did not work out well for him at 21 years of age. He had run ins with coaches and was demoted after just four starts.
The Indians always have liked Bauer. At UCLA, he was 38-4 for his career with an ERA of 2.36 and considered an elite prospect.
The Tribe traded for Bauer in December of 2012. Fast forward to this season, as the Indians have the best American League starting rotation that includes Kluber, Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar and Bauer.
Kluber was a marginal prospect in San Diego, but won the Cy Young in 2014 with the Indians.
If the pitching continues to improve, look for the Indians to be a tough team come October.