By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Trevor Bauer likes to talk. A lot.
And whether it’s the harassment of some random female college student on Twitter or the light smack-talking about one of the best pitchers in baseball history, everybody’s liable to get caught in the crossfire at any given moment.
Chris Sale can now count himself among the targets.
In a long profile in Sports Illustrated, Bauer said he was confident that he’d be winning the Cy Young Award last season, because he knew that Sale would physically break down before the end of the season.
“Sale was going to fade, like he always does,” Bauer told SI of the Cy Young race. “And I would have run away with it.”
Now, the reason it’s only considered “light” trash talk is because, well, Sale did fade down the stretch for the second straight year. After going 11-4 with a 2.04 ERA, 0.872 WHIP and a 6.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio from opening day through July 27, Sale made just five starts for the rest of the regular season due to shoulder issues. He pitched well, posting a 2.65 ERA, but he averaged just 3.1 innings pitched per start. Sale’s postseason performance overall was shaky, but he entered to close out the championship with a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Game 5, striking out all three batters who stepped to the plate.
Prior to the shoulder troubles, though, Sale was having one of the best seasons in baseball history. He was surely going to win the Cy Young Award if he could have just finished the year.
Bauer’s numbers weren’t as good as Sale’s through late July. The Indians starter was 9-6 with a 2.32 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, and a 3.9-to-1 K-to-BB ratio. But Bauer suffered a fractured leg after being hit by a line drive in August, thus limiting him to just 21.2 innings over the final two months of the season. Bauer pitched in relief in all three of Cleveland’s postseason games, picking up a blown save and posting a 6.75 ERA and 2.000 WHIP in his 4 innings pitched.
Sale was hardly the only pitcher mentioned in the SI profile. In fact, Bauer said some not-too-polite things about his own team’s closer from last season: “I could’ve fixed Cody Allen’s curveball in two days last year, but I couldn’t tell him anything because he’s a veteran and he doesn’t want to listen.”
Bauer also contended on Twitter that he was a better pitcher than teammate Corey Kluber last season:
Given the final outcome of the postseason, it might seem odd for Bauer to choose to flex on Sale. But it is mostly in line with Bauer’s modus operandi.
“I try to make the things that I say be based in reality, based in facts, and truthful,” Bauer told SI. “And if that’s the case, and you want to be upset at me for stating the truth, that’s your choice. I don’t know if I’m not afraid of sticking middle fingers in people’s faces, or if I enjoy it. But I end up doing that a lot.”
That he does. And though he was ultimately correct in assuming a physical breakdown from Sale, the cavalier way of expressing it — after getting shelled himself in the postseason, no less — is sure to add some level of distaste for Bauer when he ascends the mound at Fenway Park this season. (He’s 2-2 with a 7.71 ERA and 2.000 WHIP against the Red Sox in his career, including a 1-2 record and 8.10 ERA at Fenway.)