Trevor Bauer Dives DEEP into Max Kepler’s 5-Straight DEEP Balls Hit Off Him Last Season

Photo: Tony Dejak - AP

First, I know I’m a little late to the party on this one.. it’s a crazy time in my house. Second, I want Trevor Bauer to play for the Minnesota Twins. That’s right. The Twins (if the season ever happens) still need an ace to head their rotation and I want Trevor Bauer to be that guy.

Bauer was insane in 2018, dominating opponents to a tune of a 2.27 ERA | 1.089 WHIP | 5.8 WAR, but struggled in 2019, while in Cleveland. His ERA ballooned to over 6, but he got way better after landing in Cincinnati for the last quarter of the season.

I don’t know if I’d want him doing these videos anymore, though, if we were to get him here. Bauer REALLY dives deep into his thought process when he faces hitters, during these breakdown sessions.

As a baseball guy, though, I love it. This is why baseball people love baseball and find every pitch interesting. If you watch the game close enough, some of these thoughts are going through your head pitch-to-pitch, too. Obviously, most of us aren’t going to the depth of Bauer, but some of the general thought processes are the same.

Here is the full video. It’s 30 minutes long and I would recommend it for anyone. Those who don’t know the game as well, can get a better idea of why others call it a “thinking man’s game”, and hopefully watch from a new lens, when the sports world gets back up and rolling again. Those who love baseball already, will eat it up.

I will breakdown his breakdown below the video, with time slots to keep us aligned as you watch.

I love how he starts the video. “Alright you heathens… all you internet trolls out there in Minnesota…”

[00:40 – 14:40] | After the intro, Bauer gets into his first game of the season vs the Twins. It gets a little wordy and takes up nearly half of the video. It’s still important, though, because it does setup the important stuff.

Kepler didn’t hit well during that first game. Bauer goes through each pitch and talks about Max’s strike zone and the scouting report Cleveland had for him, going into 2019.

Cleveland’s 2019 Scouting Report on Max.

Max can get around on just about anything, that is low and inside. Like Bauer says, Kepler naturally wants to open his hips a little earlier, in his swing, than a standard hitting coach would like (“stay back” is what you’ll hear coaches say). That’s why he hits that low and inside pitch so well, no matter the speed, and why he’s had issues hitting anything outside (especially soft)… until last season.

That scouting report worked really well in that first game. Bauer held Kepler hitless but also mentions the possibility of weather and lack of at-bats early in the season, playing heavily into those first AB’s. However, he also talks about mistakes he and the ump make in that first game, that helps lead to Max’s insane 5-consecutive HR streak later in the season.

Bauer misses his spot on a couple different pitches and he thinks that helps to set up Kepler for his streak. The ump definitely misses a strike-3 call that allows Max to see pitches Bauer wasn’t going to throw to him, had the strike-3 been called.

[14:40 – 16:50] | HR #1: The scouting report for Max is still the same but Kepler has had plenty of at-bats throughout the season, at this point, and the weather has warmed up.

I love this breakdown. It goes deep into one big reason why Kepler was so much better last year, than he had been up until that point. Whether Max was expecting that change-up or not (like Bauer claims), he still opens his hips up way too early… but now, he’s able to keep his hands back, NOT roll his wrists over, and still drive the barrel through the ball. When you get fooled like this, it’s hard to even make contact, let alone drive it out of the park.

[16:50 – 22:50] | HR #2 + BB: Bauer comes into this at-bat thinking curveballs. He opens with a beautiful one that freezes Max. He then wastes a curveball before coming in high with a beautiful fastball. At this point, he has Kepler in the bag if he plays it right…. but he doesn’t. After Max is way late on the 1-1 fastball that makes the count 1-2… Bauer should come back with the heat, again. He says the same thing. Instead, he throws a curveball that Max gets a piece of, which extends the at-bat.

Then, he tries another low change-up and Kepler reminds him again, that he can hit that pitch really far now. Bauer gets pissed off in the next at-bat, admits to overthrowing due to competitiveness, and walks Kepler.

[23:00 – 25:05] | HR #3 and #4: The third and fourth straight homeruns show the other side of Kepler’s swing, which is exactly why you do NOT want to throw a low-inside fastball when he is at the plate. It plays directly into his swing. He opens those hips up, snaps his wrists through, and just POWERS those pitches off the barrel and into flames.

Bauer makes the same mistake for two-straight bombas that Kepler just destroys.

[25:10 – 27:00] | HR #5: Trevor is just over it at this point… The last homerun is off of a backdoor curve that should be, according to the scouting report, a good pitch against Max. Sure it’s elevated, as Bauer says, but that still would have been ok against pre-2019 Kepler. Not anymore. BANG… that’s number 5.

[27:00 – END] | Kepler squares to bunt against the shift, after his 5th-straight HR, which makes Bauer laugh. He only tries it once before going back to hacking away. Then, Bauer throws his first cutter of the season, vs Max.

Trevor claims their scouting report shows the cutter, as his best pitch against Kepler… which makes no sense. Why are you just throwing it now… after 5-straight homeruns? Maybe that is an example of why Cleveland underachieved last season. I can’t imagine a Twins pitcher not having that information even before any homeruns.

Bauer blames himself, but I’d sure hope your analytics department is making you aware of something like that…

Anyway, Max Kepler is really good. I want Trevor Bauer in a Twins jersey. And, I want baseball back…


Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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