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Trevor Bauer’s first start with the DeNA BayStars could not have been much better. The 32-year-old former Cy Young Award winner gave up just one run and earned the win against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp on Wednesday.
Bauer joined the Nippon Professional Baseball league on a one-year, $3(ish) million deal back in March. It could be worth up to $4(ish) million with incentives if he continues to pitch as well as he did in his debut.
Wednesday marked Bauer’s first “big league” start since 2021, when he was placed on administrative leave amidst an internal investigation into significant sexual assault allegations that were made against him. He was later suspended for 324 games, per the MLB’s domestic violence policy, but had the sentence cut to 194 games after an appeal.
Bauer ultimately did not face criminal charges from the allegations. Both he and his legal team continue to maintain that all of the occurrences were consensual.
The MLB reinstated Bauer in December, but no team was willing to sign him so he went overseas for at least one year. He made three starts on the minor league level for the BayStars and drew massive crowds.
His first start for the top-tier club was lights out.
Trevor Bauer was dealing.
As soon as Bauer toed the rubber, the Carp never stood a chance. His fastball maxed out at 97 miles per hour, his off-speed pitches were working as well as ever, and his endurance did not skip a beat after two years away from the diamond in a professional capacity.
Bauer threw 97 pitches over seven innings of one-run ball and allowed seven hits and just one walk. He also struck out nine.
As for the only run that Bauer allowed was to his former teammate. Matt Davidson, who was selected by Arizona in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft, spent 2020 on the Reds and was named the MVP of the 2013 Futures Game.
The 32-year-old joined Hiroshima back in November and took a 2-1 pitch way deep to left field during the second inning.
Bauer also laid down a bunt, but was unsuccessful in reaching base.
After recording a win in his first NPB start, Bauer led the Yokohama crowd in its victory chant.
Trevor Bauer felt great during his debut.
Bauer spoke to the media after his outing and had nothing but positive things to say.
I just felt normal. The body felt good: command velocity, results. All good. It was a great day.— Trevor Bauer
He also gave a lot of credit to the electric fans of the NPB, while speaking to the lack of energy amongst MLB crowds.
The atmosphere in the U.S. doesn’t compare to here at all. The only time it comes anywhere close is sometimes playoff baseball. I played in a World Series in 2016, and the Cleveland stadium was very loud. But the sustained energy here is just so much different.— Trevor Bauer
A timeline for Bauer’s next start is unclear, but the team plans to move him into a consistent rotation spot over the next few weeks and then ride his arm into the playoffs. The Nippon Series (NPB’s version of the World Series) is played in late October into early November, so there is still a long way to go but the BayStars are atop the Central League through 24 games and adding Bauer to the mix will only help their chances of going all the way— so long as he pitches like he did on Wednesday.