The 2020 season is going to be weird. You know it. I know it. The players know it. And Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson knows it, too. Trevor Bauer noted in the offseason that he was hoping to pitch every four days at some point in the future and that he could possibly use that ask in the future in free agency, potentially using that as a reason to sign with a team. Well, maybe that’s something that we can see this season.

“I’ve got that as being 100% on the table. Especially in a shortened season, it’s something he really wants to do and thinks he’d thrive in that environment,” said Johnson. “I know there’s questions behind that – at the same time I think we’re in a position to do it. I trust Trevor, I trust what kind of work he puts in – invests in himself and I think if he feels like he can do it, I think he can. From what I see and the things he and I have talked about, I think it’s a really cool weapon we have that a lot of teams don’t have. So if we can use that to our advantage, I think we will.”

There’s still a whole lot of unknown between today and the start of the season, much less the end of the season. Being creative, finding new ways or different ways to go about things because of what’s been presented to everyone in 2020 could lead to an interesting set up.

“We’ve talked about the rotation, but I think the good part for us is we have some flexibility barring injury, in who could start, we have flexibility on who could do it on shorter rest and want to,” said Johnson. “If you look at it like that, you come up with 3-4-5 different ways you could slice this thing. You have a couple of guys who won’t be in the starting rotation who could piggy and serve as a long-inning type of guy.”

With the short ramp up period, starters are likely not going to be going out and being asked to throw 5-6-7 innings, especially at the start of the season. With the Reds depth, they may be able to go with a quick hook if a guy doesn’t have it on that day, too. That could really come into play with how the rotation plays out.

“You are making those adjustments really fast in game, so if your starter doesn’t have it that day you go with another guy, even if it’s in the 3rd inning,” said Johnson. “You never have to worry about his spot coming up in the lineup. To me there’s just an infinite number of ways you can chop this up and try to make it work.”

All of that stuff combined – Trevor Bauer wanting to pitch every four days, shorter expected starts, more options in the bullpen due to how the rosters work – it really could lead to an interesting usage situation for Bauer. You can envision a situation where he’s starting every four days with a plan to go 4-5 innings each time out depending on his pitch count/performance, and then turn the game over for 2-3 innings to a Tyler Mahle, Jose De Leon, Sal Romano, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett – someone who was a former starter who could give you some of those longer stretches every so often out of the bullpen before turning things over to a 1-inning guy at the very end.

We’re only two days into team workouts. There’s a whole lot to be decided. But the Cincinnati Reds are certainly talking an interesting game here. It’s been quite a while since a pitcher in Major League Baseball started every four days on a regular basis. 2020 may indeed conspire to make it something else weird come to fruition – this time on the baseball field.

25 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    Is he asking for this because he wants to maximize his showing and value for his next 1-year contract (assuming he still does that)? If so and it works all the way around, then let it happen. I seriously doubt he’s a Red beyond this season unless some type of miracle happens. Bauer sees himself as the ultimate hired gun. A guy who comes in, plays for a single season, gets a legitimate shot at winning a championship, then moves on to the next team. Lather – Rinse – Repeat.

    • Colorado Red

      I think you hit the nail on the head. He wants to maximize his value for next year.
      Also, as CFD pointed out, not sure how this works with 5 man rotation.
      But, if with double headers, and like, it might workout sometimes.
      You are only talking 15 starts at most.

      • Colorado Red

        Make that not CFD, but Amarillo. OOPS.

      • Sean D

        It’s about maximizing value but I also think he really believes he’s a better pitcher going every 4 days rather than 5. According to him, the data he collects on himself everyday shows he’s best suited to start every 4 days.

    • MK

      For Bauer he is as much about thinking his pitching theories are correct as the money. Can not imagine if he is treated fairly he would want to pitch anywhere but Cincy. The guy has started to document his sleep patterns to quantify sleep time with performance. The Reds are embracing hid idiosyncrasies which did not happen in Az or Cle. He likes the pitching coaching staff and maybe more important he is a Driveline guy. As a pro I think Boddy can no longer work with any pros but Reds personnel so this means he needs to be a Red for access to them.

  2. Amarillo

    There is no way mathematically to have one starter on every 4 days and everyone else on 5 days. You’d be skipping some player’s spot, or moving them around which is bad for everyone else. The only way it could work legitimately is you have a full 4 man rotation, or you could have Bauer be the piggy-back reliever. We have enough pitchers to go with dual 3/4 inning starters every game so it’s possible, but Bauer’s every 4 days thing doesn’t work out mathematically unless you screw up the routine of everyone else.

    • Seadog

      It is mathematically possible. You just don’t like it.

  3. CFD3000

    IF Bauer turns out to be more effective this year and more like the Bauer the Reds hoped they were getting, and IF he could pitch more innings this way, then I’m in favor of this experiment. Give your best players more time on the field. That’s why better hitters hit near the top of the lineup. But if he’s only a decent pitcher in 2020, then why scramble the schedule for the other four starters to accommodate Bauer with no advantage in overall effectiveness. And he’d need to go just as deep every 4 days for this to make sense. It doesn’t make sense to have Bauer pitch 5 innings every four days instead of 6 innings every 5. If he doesn’t end up pitching more innings (and more effective innings) what’s the benefit?

    I’m all in favor if a) Bauer is good, and b) this results in more Bauer innings, especially if it means a higher chance to resign him for 2021. But otherwise what’s the upside?

  4. Jeff in TN

    Yes, he considers himself a ‘hired gun’ but has landed in an organization that has some of the best pitching coaches and methods in all of MLB. While the Reds have not turned out great pitchers in the past, I think that they are moving in the right direction, and quickly. Derek Johnson is a wizard and I honestly believe bringing him into the team’s staff has made them MUCH better.
    With Sonny and Luis and Trevor together, they will thrive off of each other. This could be a magical season and could give Bauer the ring that he covets.
    I would NOT be surprised if he resigns with the Reds for next season. He seems to really like it in Cincinnati. It will be a matter of money and what other teams consider his value. I think that he will have a great season as will the entire team. It’s been 30 years since the last WS winner and the law of averages says this year is the Reds year. We can only hope…

  5. Don

    Usage of Bauer every 4 days all depends on how the schedule is laid out for the 60 games. Without knowing the schedule one cannot evaluate the impact on the rest of the rotation.

    The more the top 3 (Gray,Castillo, Bauer) pitch the more games the Reds should win.
    Working to get each of them 15 or 16 starts would most likely be the smart move.

    • TBD

      Does anyone know when the schedule is going to come out ?

      • Doug Gray

        “This week”. That’s about as concrete as anyone’s been able to get. The MLBPA approved the schedule more than a week ago, but the teams themselves have been trying to make little changes here and there every since, and it’s taking a bit more time than expected.

      • Old-school

        Mark Sheldon says the 23rd will likely feature 2 national games. The first an East coast Yankees/Nationals game and a West coast game later.

        Dodgers/ Astros would make sense.

  6. James Phillips

    I’d love to see how a four man rotation, basically never pitching more than twice through the lineup, could work. That would leave nine relievers to get 20 innings or so every four days. It would completely change the way pitching has been used for the last few decades.

  7. Stock

    The Reds had 4 SP with an ERA under 4 last year (Gray, Castillo, DeSclafani and Miley) Bauer had the 5th best ERA. Why should the Reds take starts away from pitchers who performed better than him last year?

  8. Old-school

    Hopefully Bauer is in 2017/18 form.
    Reds showing live BP on Twitter. Michael Lorenzen is blowing good Reds hitters away. Dominant.

    • TBD

      “Michael Lorenzen is blowing good Reds hitters away.”
      That could be good 🙂 or that could be bad 🙁

      • Old-school

        Lol.

        I’ll take it as good. Hitters need time but Lorenzen has it all. Elite Velocity/movement/command/ stuff/poise.

        He could be on the verge of being great.

      • TBD

        Old School
        Agreed. He is one focused dude who is always trying to improve. And if he put it all together he can be an exceptional pitcher.

  9. MK

    Put them all on a 4 day rotation. Piggy back if they feel the need but would like to see Gray, Castillo and Gray as many times as possible.

    It was nice watching practice live today On Facebook

  10. Kevin Patrick

    This isn’t a forum where “gut instinct” is valued too terribly much… understandably…but after watching DeSclafani last year and seeing how he is developing along with motivation for a successful year before contract changes…I have to think he’s going to turn some heads. I’m all for accommodating Bauer if his stuff looks unusually lively, but I would have to think that he might look around at some of the other guys pitching and think, “hmmm…we have some pretty darn good pitchers who are going to help the team as well as I can…” I think Bauer is going to be fantastic and yet I also think some others will be too and that Bauer’s objectiveness will steer him to do what is best for the team… whatever that may be.

    • MK

      So let him pitch every 4 days. Miley is beter suited for bullpen of the 5

  11. RES

    It is inappropriate to hold Bauer’s ineffectiveness last season against him given his injured status. While that doesn’t mean he will return to form this year it also doesn’t mean he will be so ineffective. A simple check indicates that if Bauer pitches every fourth start each of the other pitchers can remain on a five day schedule while receiving an extra day of rest every fourth time (indicated by *) through the rotation:
    Gray
    Castillo
    DeSclafani
    Miley
    Bauer

    Gray
    Castillo
    DeSclafani
    Bauer
    Miley *

    Gray
    Castillo
    Bauer
    DeSclafani *
    Miley

    Gray
    Bauer
    Castillo *
    DeSclafani
    Miley

    Bauer
    Gray *
    Castillo
    DeSclafani
    Bauer

    Miley *
    Gray
    Castillo
    Bauer
    DeSclafani

    At any rate, I think that’s how it would work. To maintain such a schedule would obviously require a high level of performance from Bauer but he’s shown in the past what he can achieve. Off days and rain-outs would obviously affect this in unpredictable ways.

  12. Doc

    Bauer sounds like the baseball equivalent of golf’s Bryson DeChambeau. Does it his way.