Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer has in the past stumped to be part of a four-man rotation, or least start every fourth day himself. That wish is unlikely to be granted during a normal 162-game season, but the 2020 regular season will span just 60 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means the time may be nigh for Bauer to take the bump every fourth day.
As Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, that might be just what happens. Via Nightengale:
The question looming throughout preseason camp is how much is enough for Bauer in the starting rotation. Pitching coach Derek Johnson said he was considering using Bauer as a starter every fourth day, something Bauer has advocated for, instead of the typical five days.
"I've applied some friendly pressure to him, I guess is how you'd say it," Bauer said. "But basically letting him know that I want to pitch as much as possible as often as possible. You don't have to worry about wearing down over the course of a long season. We've got a two-month sprint and a month of playoffs."
Johnson's indication that allowing Bauer to start every fourth day is a possibility is noteworthy, as he's a highly regarded pitching coach. As well, the Reds are heavily committed to contending in 2020, and the NL Central figures to be a hotly contested division, as the Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers also have designs on the flag.
Bauer is in line to be Reds' No. 3 starter behind Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. If he indeed takes the third of the season and stays on a schedule of three days' rest, then he'd wind up making 16 starts, which is probably about four more than he'd make on the standard four days' rest. In essence, those starts would come at the expense of the fifth starter, likely Wade Miley. Miley's had a nice renaissance over the last two seasons, but Bauer figures to be an upgrade. Given how tight the margins figure to be in the NL Central this season, that could be significant.
It's worth noting that Bauer topped 200 innings for the first time in 2019 and has topped 30 starts in four of the last five seasons. He's also never been on the IL for arm trouble in his major-league career. Bauer's notably committed to conditioning and heavy throwing volume, and he's quite knowledgeable about proper mechanics. Taking the ball every fourth day would likely help the Reds' chances of making the postseason, and it would also amount to quite a statement about Bauer's durability and commitment heading into free agency. Given the Reds' apparent openness to the idea, don't be shocked if it comes to pass.