Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a “small stress fracture” in his right fibula, manager Terry Francona tells reporters (Twitter link via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com). Bauer sustained the injury upon being hit by a comebacker in a recent start, and there’s no timetable for his return to action just yet. Left-hander Tyler Olson is up from Triple-A to take his spot on the roster for now, and righty Adam Plutko will join the team this weekend to start in Bauer’s place.
Fortunately for the Indians, they can afford to be cautious with a return for Bauer. Cleveland holds a virtually insurmountable 12.5-game lead over the Twins in the American League Central with just under seven weeks to play this season, so while the loss of one of their best pitchers undoubtedly stings, it’ll have almost no bearing on their ability to reach the postseason.
Having said that, the eventual determination of Bauer’s recovery timeline will be a significant development to follow. Certainly, Cleveland will hope to have Bauer back in enough time that he’s able to be relied upon as a member of the postseason rotation. The Indians will likely pair Corey Kluber and Bauer atop their starting mix in the postseason, giving them one of the more formidable one-two punches in all of October baseball (Bauer’s health permitting).
The 27-year-old Bauer has long been touted as a potential top-of-the-rotation arm, and he’s realized that potential and stepped up into “ace” territory in 2018. Through 166 frames this year, Bauer boasts a sensational 2.22 ERA with 11.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9 and a 44.2 percent ground-ball rate.
Fielding-independent metrics like FIP (2.38), xFIP (3.12) and SIERA (3.18) all largely support his breakout campaign, and Bauer’s combination of innings, strikeouts and run prevention would quite likely have thrust him among the front-runners for American League Cy Young honors. If he’s able to return in reasonably short order, perhaps that’s still possible, but missing even a few starts could jeopardize that possibility, given the strength of performances by other contenders, including Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Blake Snell and his teammate (and reigning Cy Young winner) Kluber.