The best pitcher in this free-agent class is still available, seeking a team for 2021 and beyond. That man is Trevor Bauer, the NL Cy Young award winner in ‘20. There’s a feeling or, say, a sense that the Angels could make a push to sign the 30-year-old righty and make him their new ace.
Although the eventual move would make a lot of sense for a Los Ángeles team that hasn’t had a true ace since Jered Weaver’s prime almost a decade ago, the Astros wouldn't be thrilled about it on the other side. Bauer has just been an Astro killer.
Since he made his debut, back in 2012, Bauer is 8-0 in nine career starts against Houston. If that’s not enough for you, he owns a 2.90 ERA in those appearances. Across 59 innings, he’s struck out 71 hitters and has a 1.09 WHIP. In fact, his team has never lost a game he started vs. the Astros.
Five of the cited nine outings have been quality ones, including seven scoreless frames in 2016, a 13-strikeout game in 2018, and eight innings of one-run ball in 2019 before saying goodbye to Cleveland and departing to Cincinnati.
So far on his journey, Bauer has only faced five of the current Astros’ position players, but has dominated them all except for José Altuve: Altuve (7-for-23, .304), Carlos Correa (3-for-16, .188), Alex Bregman (2-for-13, .154), Yuli Gurriel (4-for-14, .286), and Martín Maldonado (1-for-3, .333).
Besides, Bauer has cruised in four starts —won all of them— at Minute Maid Park. In 26 2⁄3 episodes, he’s only given up 12 hits (three home runs) and four earned runs (1.35 ERA), with 15 bases on balls and 30 strikeouts.
As you see, there’s more than one reason to hope Bauer signs with another team that’s not a division rival. The Astros still have a dangerous lineup, but if you can avoid facing a Cy Young winner several times a year, then good for you.