CLEVELAND -- Over the first two months of the 2017 season with the Cleveland Indians, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer allowed 11 home runs, 38 earned runs and was just 5-4 with an ERA of 5.82 in 10 appearances.
And because of those struggles, Bauer was extremely frustrated, but when the calendar flipped to June, Bauer settled into himself and rattled off 12 wins in the last four months of the regular season, on the way to a career-best 17 victories.
“The first half was miserable,” Bauer said. “I was depressed for the first month, month-and-a-half of the season.
“I didn't enjoy coming to the field. My numbers sucked. I didn't feel like I was contributing to the team, so it was like I was on the team, but didn't feel like I was contributing, which is a terrible feeling for any competitor. You want to be one of the main guys out there with your teammates and contributing.”
PHOTOS: Trevor Bauer ready for Game 1 start with Cleveland Indians
In his first outing of the second half of the season, a 7-3 loss at the Oakland Athletics out of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game break, Bauer lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing four earned runs, three hits and three walks, but that was a turning point for Bauer.
Bauer did not lose another start for the next two months after the struggles in Oakland.
“The second half started off terribly, one of my worst starts in pro ball, and then, over the course of the next couple months, it turned around,” Bauer said. “So it's been enjoyable for sure because I feel like I'm able to contribute now. Instead of just being on the team, I feel like I'm a part of the team.”
The Indians’ coaching staff took notice of the changes they saw in Bauer, and to the 26-year old native of North Hollywood, California, becoming a better teammate had everything to do with finding a comfort zone.
“It usually takes me a couple years like that to kind of get comfortable with the situation and with my surroundings and the people I'm around and really kind of open up and feel like I'm okay to be myself and have other people understand that, when I say certain things or do certain things, they understand how to interpret that,” Bauer said. “They don't take it out of context.
“It's a growth process on both sides and learning each other and learning the situation and the circumstances, the culture, stuff like that.”
With a new-found sense of comfort, Bauer finished the regular season with a 17-9 record and 4.19 ERA in 32 games, including 31 starts. Over 176.1 innings of work. Bauer registered 196 strikeouts against 60 walks allowed.
During the regular season, Bauer was a standout performer at Progressive Field, going 10-4 with a 3.93 ERA and 116 strikeouts against 25 walks allowed in 103.0 innings of work in 17 starts in front of the home fans.
“I try to attack each inning during the regular season as if I'm the closer, all out for that inning, close it out, and then, go out for the next one and do the same thing,” Bauer said. “It doesn't always turn out that way, but that's my mindset going into it.”