It’s just a formality to announce it at this point, but yes, obviously, Shane Bieber is going to be Cleveland’s Opening Day starter.
The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber, will be our Opening Day starter. pic.twitter.com/OnsJW3JtNa— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) March 12, 2021
Bieber was initially named as the team’s starter last year for the scheduling Opening Day, and he later assumed the role when Cleveland opened their 2020 campaign on July 24 against the Royals. He pitched six innings of a 2-0 shutout en route to a 1.63 ERA and 14.20 K/9 in 12 starts and his first American League Cy Young Award.
Bieber’s opener last year ended Corey Kluber’s streak of five-consecutive Opening Day starts — tied for the longest streak in franchise history (Stan Coveleski, 1917-1921). He was the first to pitch on the winning side of an Opening Day shutout since Justin Masterson in 2014, and he is the first to finish with a recorded win since Masterson in 2013. Bieber also broke the Opening Day strikeout record with 14, besting Gary Bell’s 12 strikeouts against the Tigers in 1960.
Last year at this time there was space for an interesting debate — does Cleveland go with the guy who looked like their best overall pitcher (Mike Clevinger), the guy who battled back from cancer and would have made for one hell of an emotional choice (Carlos Carrasco), or their surprising second-year pitcher (Bieber)? This time around, there is no such discussion. Aaron Civale, Zack Plesac, and Triston McKenzie will probably all be excellent starters and continue Cleveland’s trend of pumping out great rotations, but Bieber is the undisputed king of the pitching castle right now.
Cleveland opens their 2021 season against the Tigers on April 1 at 1:10 p.m. ET. Their home opener, where 30% capacity will be permitted to attend, will be against the Royals on April 5.