"Regardless of what somebody says five minutes after a game, I don't put a lot of stock in it," Francona said prior to Tuesday's game in Toronto. "I certainly hope that nobody's ever disrespectful or something like that. But, I thought his stuff was really good -- better than we've seen all year. And I think his stuff's been fine."
Bauer's first six starts (7.36 ERA in 33 innings) of this season have certainly been enigmatic.
On one hand, Bauer has career-best rates for strikeouts (25.3 percent) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.5). On the other hand, the righty has allowed a 4.8-percent home run rate and a 12.3 percent extra-base hit rate (both career worsts). Bauer's walk rate (4.1 per nine innings) is higher than it has been since 2013, and he has averaged a career-high 4.5 pitches per plate appearance.
Francona said that last number is one of the issues for Bauer right now. In Monday's six-inning showing, in which Bauer allowed four runs on six hits, the righty piled up a career-high 125 pitches. Granted, Bauer's strike percentage (61.6) was better than his season mark (59.6), but Francona noted that the elevated pitch count can play into a lineup's hand.
"There's a lot of deep counts," Francona said. "When Trev says somebody hit a ball that maybe they shouldn't, when you're at 100 pitches after 4 1/3 innings, you're showing hitters a lot of pitches. You're showing guys all your repertoire, and he gets to a point sometimes where he has to make a perfect pitch. When he does, he's fine. When he doesn't, he gives up a lot of damage. We continue to talk to him about it."
Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway agreed with Francona that the discussions with Bauer between starts carry far more weight than anything the pitcher says after a loss.
"We have a lot of tough conversations between starts. We have a lot of good conversations," Callaway said. "No matter what he thought of the previous outing, we try to come to terms with what actually happened and kind of go from there. Last night, I'd say I thought he was pretty much right. I thought he executed those pitches."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.