The Indians have announced that Shane Bieber will be the 59th Opening Day starter in franchise history and the first not named Corey Kluber or Justin Masterson in almost a decade.
Shane Bieber was our 5th starter when the season started last year.— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) March 6, 2020
Shane Bieber is our starter for Opening Day on March 26th. pic.twitter.com/xfnLBQFDct
Bieber will take the mound against the Detroit Tigers on Mar. 26 just a season after being the No. 5 starter in a loaded rotation. Now he sits atop a rotation that could be just as loaded, but a whole lot younger.
While he has no doubt earned such an honor, posting a 3.28 ERA, 25.5 K-BB%, and 5.6 WAR in his first full season as a starter, he lands as the Opening Day starter without much competition. Mike Clevinger presumably would have been given the honor if he didn’t injure his knee early in spring training, and veteran Carlos Carrasco is an option, but there’s still no guarantee he’ll be ready for Opening Day, even though he seems confident that he will be. He debuted on Mar. 3 after missing most of spring training with a hip flexor strain suffered on Feb. 19. With 20 days left before the big day, if the Indians want to have any kind of announcement about Opening Day, Bieber was the only real choice.
Whether or not Bieber will be pitching in front of a sold out crowd is still up in the air, however. Tickets for Opening Day have been on sale since Feb. 24 and are still not sold out. Between a lackluster offseason, cold weather, fear of the Coronavirus, and a Thursday afternoon start, it’s seemingly a perfect storm of reasons for the Indians not to sell out their 28th consecutive Opening Day. There’s still plenty of time, though.
Regardless of it’s sold out or not, Bieber can now safely put “Opening Day starter” next to his “All-Star Game MVP” and “most disgustingly handsome player in baseball” trophies on his mantle.