Shane Bieber has blossomed into one of the top pitchers in the MLB. The Cleveland Indians ace has put together a successful career since he entered the league in 2018. The shortened 2020 season was a good one for Bieber as he put up impressive numbers.
The Indians named Bieber the starting pitcher for Game 1 of the AL Wild Card against the New York Yankees, and Bieber did not have the outing he wanted in his playoff debut.
Shane Bieber immediately made an impact when he entered the MLB
The Cleveland Indians drafted Bieber in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB draft. He spent three years in college at UC Santa Barbara before he was drafted. Bieber spent a few years in the minors where he had success on the mound. In 2018, he made his MLB debut for the Indians on May 31. He started against the Minnesota Twins and pitched 5.2 innings giving up four runs and striking out six as the Indians went on to win the game 9-8.
He finished the season going 11-5 while making 19 starts, and he finished with a 4.55 ERA with 118 strikeouts. Bieber showed a lot of potential that he could become the Indians ace his rookie season. The next year, Bieber started off strong as he had a 7-3 record with a 3.54 ERA through 18 games. That season the All-Star game was played in Cleveland, and Bieber was named to his first All-Star team. Bieber struck out the side in the fifth inning, and the American League went on to defeat the National League 4-3. He was named the MVP of the All-Star game after his performance.
The right-hander finished the 2019 season with a 15-8 record through 34 games, while making 33 starts. He struck out 259 batters and finished with a 3.28 ERA. Bieber was in the conversation for the AL Cy Young Award as he finished fourth place in the voting.
Shane Bieber continued to dominate in 2020
After having success in his first two seasons, Bieber looked to continue that success in season three. Despite a shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bieber took advantage of that and dominated on the mound for the Indians. He was named the Opening Day starter for the Indians for the first time. They played the Kansas City Royals on July 24, 2020, and Bieber struck out 14 as the Indians won 2-0.
His 14 strikeouts set a team record for most strikeouts by a starting pitcher on Opening Day. In his next outing against the Minnesota Twins, he struck out 13 batters in eight innings, which tied Karl Spooner for the most strikeouts by a pitcher in their first two starts in a season. The success continued for Bieber throughout the season. He made six starts in August and had a 1.63 ERA with 57 strikeouts. According to Elias Sports Bureau, when he reached 50 innings, he had 84 strikeouts, which was the most by a starting pitcher in MLB history during that span.
At the end of the 2020 season, Bieber became the first pitcher since Johan Santana in 2006 to win the pitching triple crown. Bieber led the league in wins (eight), ERA (1.63), and strikeouts (122).
Bieber’s playoff debut was one to forget
Bieber made his playoff debut against the Yankees in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card, and let’s just say it did not go the way he planned. The Yankees quickly wasted no time against Bieber and struck first in the top of the first when Aaron Judge hit a two-run homer to give the Yankees an early 2-0 lead.
Bieber gave up seven runs in his playoff debut as he only lasted 4.2 innings. The Yankees hit two home runs off Bieber, and they had a field day at the plate. No one saw this coming from Bieber because of all the success he had during the regular season. The Yankees won the game 12-3 and have a 1-0 lead over the Indians. It was not the playoff welcome that Bieber wanted, and if the Indians can make a run in the playoffs, they’ll look for Bieber to bounce back from his performance in Game 1.