Homer Bailey took a line drive off the jaw and neck Thursday and joked later that he’d been bitten worse by bed bugs in Saltillo. That’s a city in Mexico about 454 miles from Bailey’s hometown of La Grange, Texas.
The bed bugs must be bad in Saltillo, but they would be no match for Bailey right now. He recorded his fourth straight quality start in a 4-0 victory over the Indians and lowered his ERA in four starts since the All-Star break to 1.61.
Bailey has gotten better and better. His ERA was 6.15 in April, 4.26 in May, 3.35 in June and 2.67 in July. It’s 0.64 through two starts in August and stands at 3.71 for the season. That’s not far off his numbers the last two seasons (3.68 and 3.49).
In short, he’s pitching like the guy who signed a six-year contract extension worth $105 million in February.
“Early in the season, you go through those spells where it seems like everything falls (for hits),” Bailey said. “Right now, it’s falling in everybody’s glove. That’s a big key. For the most part, it’s just being aggressive, trying to get guys out early, putting pressure on hitters.”
Manager Bryan Price attributed Bailey’s success to pitch execution. Bailey agreed, saying his splitter is working well and he’s locating his fastball.
“It really does come down to pitch execution,” Price said. “The velocity has been there. He has maintained velocity throughout the year. There was a point in time where we thought he might be tipping his pitches. That has been addressed.
“He’s showing up at 92 to 97 almost every game. But fastball command really for me always sets the tone for everything else. If he’s nailing the fastball, the split and the sliders are right behind it. Yesterday he had a terrific split, both against the lefties and the righties for some strikeouts.”
If he was tipping his pitches, Bailey said, the other teams weren’t showing it. It’s something he’s always cognizant of doing, especially with his breaking ball. He planned to watch video Friday of Thursday’s start to make sure he wasn’t tipping pitches.
“I know I’ve done it in the past,” Bailey said. “Usually, I’ll get somebody in the dugout to watch to make sure I’m not.”