How Trevor Bauer Built One Of The Filthiest Curveballs in Baseball

Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer has decimated hitters with his curveball. Here's how he discovered the perfect way to throw it.

Trevor Bauer had it going during Game 1 of the Cleveland Indians' ALDS matchup with the New York Yankees.

The 26-year-old starting pitcher tossed 6.2 shutout innings and recorded eight strikeouts to propel Cleveland to a 4-0 victory. Bauer's curveball was especially lethal, as five of his punch-outs came on the pitch:

It's a filthy pitch. According to PITCHf/x, only Mike Fiers of the Houston Astros averages more vertical movement on his curveball than Bauer does. Perhaps that's why Bauer throws it on 29.8 percent of his pitches, the fourth-most of any starting pitcher. So, how did Bauer develop his devastating breaking ball?

Driveline Baseball—the Seattle-based facility where Bauer trains during the offseason—had a lot to do with it. The facility preaches "data-driven" training, and they gather that data via tools such as a "gold standard" motion capture laboratory and advanced pitch tracking technologies. Driveline is the perfect playground for the analytical Bauer, who majored in mechanical engineering at UCLA.

"Anytime I can cross the two over and use the scientific method to improve myself as a baseball player, I try to do just that," Bauer recently told on his relationship with Driveline. With the help of Driveline's technology, Bauer discovered that using a knuckle-curve grip allowed him to add more revolutions per minute to his curveball, enhancing its movement. From SportTechie:

Bauer said his original (curveball) curved at 2,850 average rpm, a rate that fell to 2,450 after he changed his pitching mechanics; sometimes his index finger would protrude into the ball path and deflect the spin axis and hinder the spin rate. Using the high-speed camera, Bauer learned the knuckle-curve grip he uses now, spinning a 2,400 rpm pitch early in counts as a get-me-over strike and dialing it up as high as 2,800 for a late-count whiff. "All the data says that for every 100 rpm's you get on the curveball, swing-and-miss rate increases," Bauer said.

It's a prime example of a player leveraging technology to get the most out of his athletic abilities. "We have these conversations about how to create spin and maximize your body movements," Indians closer Cody Allen told "(Bauer) knows more about this stuff than anybody."

Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty