Does Trevor Bauer get the Ball on Opening Day for the Dodgers?
The news broke last week that Trevor Bauer signed a three-year, $102 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bauer is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, so he will fit in just fine to the stacked Dodgers’ pitching rotation.
Bauer was known for having a desire only to sign one-year deals in the MLB. This is because in 2012, Bauer made a bet with his best friend that if he ever signed a multi-year deal, his buddy would get to shoot him in the nuts with a paintball gun from ten feet away.
Check out this tweet for the full paintball bet story!
Trevor Bauer says he's never signing a long-term deal. Only one-year contracts.
Why? Turns out he made a bet with a friend: If he ever signs a multi-year deal, the friend gets to shoot him in the nuts with a paintball gun from 10 feet away.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 6, 2018
It’s still uncertain whether Trevor Bauer will survive this nut shot, but if he does, should he be given the ball on Opening Day for the Dodgers? Let’s take a look.
Trevor Bauer: The Resume
Trevor Bauer has pitched for three franchises in his MLB tenure. The Dodgers will be the fourth team for Bauer in his nine total years in the show. Bauer spent six full seasons with the Cleveland Indians before departing to Cincinnati for a year and a half.
Bauer was known for being one of the league’s best since he started coming into his own in 2016. Bauer made his first All-Star team in 2018 and then swept the postseason awards in 2020.
In 2020, Bauer was the National League ERA winner, an All-MLB First-Team selection, and the National League Cy Young Award recipient.
CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 13: Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians pitches to Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Progressive Field on June 13, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
2020 was a shortened season, but Bauer was dominant every time he took the mound. In 11 starts, Bauer posted two complete game shutouts. His ERA on the year was 1.73 with 100 strikeouts.
In nine MLB seasons, Bauer has gone 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA. He has thrown 1190 complete innings and has struck out 1279 batters. His wins above replacement for his career is 17.5. This puts him in an elite category of big-league pitchers.
The Dodgers’ Rotation
The Dodgers’ 2021 starting rotation in order is expected to be Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, and David Price. There have been discussions of when Walker Buehler will get the ball from David Roberts on Opening Day.
Trevor Bauer is now replacing his name. Buehler would be third in the Dodgers’ starting rotation if the season started tomorrow. The real comparison that needs to be made is between Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer.
Clayton Kershaw: The Resume
Clayton Kershaw is arguably the greatest pitcher of this generation. Kershaw has been a staple in Los Angeles since 2008. The 32-year-old is still pitching at a high level, but he isn’t as capable as he was in his twenties.
Kershaw has lost speed off his fastball, but he can still locate and outpitch elite MLB hitters. Kershaw has won the NL Cy Young Award three times in his career.
ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 20: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during Game 1 of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
In addition to these accolades, Kershaw is an eight-time All-Star, a three-time wins and strikeouts winner, and a five-time ERA winner. Kershaw has done it all in the big leagues, and he was a crucial reason that the Dodgers defeated the Rays in last year’s fall classic.
Kershaw’s wins above replacement throughout his career is 69.6. He is 175-76 with a 2.43 ERA and 2,526 strikeouts in 13 seasons with the Dodgers.
Who Should Get the Ball on Opening Day?
The Dodgers still belong to Clayton Kershaw.
Has his fastball slowed down? Yes
Have his total innings gone down? Yes
However, is he still elite? Yes
Bauer will fit in nicely to the second spot in the rotation, and he will most likely throw more innings than Kershaw. Bauer is the 2nd ranked starting pitcher, and Kershaw is the 20th rated starter in baseball by fangraphs.com.
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Bauer is the future, and he will be with the team for at least three complete seasons. I think he will be getting the ball on Opening Day at some point in this time frame. However, Clayton Kershaw will make his 9th Opening Day start in 2021.
The Dodgers are still Kershaw’s team, but Bauer’s signing should put the MLB on notice. This starting rotation is the best in baseball, and I think hitters will realize this very quickly in 2021.