The most consistent strength of the Cleveland Baseball Team over the last 10-15 years has been starting pitching. Over that time, the organization has won five Cy Young awards and produced numerous elite starters.
Beginning with CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee in the late 2000s and continuing with Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger, Cleveland’s staring pitching machine has rolled on, no matter what the offense and bullpen look like.
However, we might be seeing the best of this machine right now in current Cleveland ace Shane Bieber. In his last start, Bieber struck out 13 batters and picked up the win. This gave him 48 strikeouts through his first four starts this season, tying Nolan Ryan for the all-time record in that category.
It also gave him his 16th consecutive start with more than eight strikeouts, tying Pedro Martinez for the second-longest streak of all time. With one more, he will tie Randy Johnson for the longest streak ever.
Bieber’s meteoric rise has become the stuff of legends in the Cleveland organization. At the start of the 2019 season, he was the team’s fifth starter. After a stellar first half earned him an All-Star nod, he took home All-Star Game MVP honors at Progressive Field.
When Cleveland traded Bauer at the trade deadline in 2019 and dealt Kluber the following offseason, Bieber was forced to step into the role of ace. He started the 2020 season with a 14-strikeout performance, tying the all-time record for the most strikeouts on Opening Day.
After that masterful performance, he continued to dominate hitters on the way to winning the Cy Young.
However, Bieber is so much more than just numbers and awards. He is an ace in every sense of the word, and that is not something a lot of teams have. To me, having an ace like that means two things.
First, it means I want to watch every single pitch he throws. I watch as many Cleveland games as I can, but when Bieber is on the mound, those games are appointment viewing. Watching him baffle hitters with a combination of fastballs and breaking balls brings me so much joy as a Cleveland fan, and that is something only a truly dominant ace can give.
Second, it means Bieber gives fans an unshakeable confidence that every time he takes the mound, Cleveland is going to win. Now, that is obviously not true, as no starting pitcher goes undefeated, no matter how good they are. But that confidence is such a great thing to have as a fan, and it only comes with a great ace.
The bottom line is Shane Bieber is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and the fact that he plays for Cleveland is something we should never take for granted. As he continues to break records, we should remember to enjoy the ride.
Will Cunningham is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Will? Tweet him @willocunningham.