CLEVELAND — The 2018 season was a bit of a whirlwind for Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber.
After beginning the year at Double-A Akron, where he made just five starts with the Rubber Ducks, he was promoted to Triple-A Columbus. Then, after making eight starts for the Clippers, Bieber was promoted to the Indians’ 25-man roster at the end of May and spent the rest of the season at the Major League level.
Knowing that he will start the 2019 season with the big-league club, Bieber is looking forward to consistently testing his skills about baseball’s best lineups.
“It was a little too quick, just learning so much so fast and kind of a baptism by fire kind of thing, figuring out who I was as a pitcher, what worked, what didn’t work and really, just trying to find a groove there at the end of the season,” Bieber said.
“I thought I was finding it, but that’s the whole thing of it, and that’s why I’m excited for this year and getting a full year under my belt, going out there and finding out what I’m made of.”
Bieber made his Major League debut against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis on May 31, 2018, and after giving up eight hits and four runs, all earned, in 5.2 innings of work against one of Cleveland’s Central Division rivals, he became a reliable contributor in the rotation.
Bieber finished the 2018 season with an 11-5 record in 20 appearances, including 19 starts. Over 114.2 innings of work, Bieber struck out 118 hitters against 23 walks allowed. He surrendered 60 runs, 58 of which were earned, and 130 hits in his first big-league season.
“Me being the ‘strike thrower,’ choosing your spots when to actually go and attack the zone and when to not because these guys will take advantage of you if they know a fastball’s coming,” Bieber said. “They’ll get aggressive, and they’ll usually hit it pretty good.
“It’s figuring out how to attack these guys, especially down in the count, and being a little more careful, executing your pitches a little bit better and throwing more off-speed in fastball counts and really, just trying not to be too predictable and go out there and execute.”
Bieber is expected to be part of a rotation that made history in 2018.
The Indians were the first team ever in MLB to have four pitchers, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer, register 200 or more strikeouts in the same season. Three of their five starters, Kluber, Carrasco and Clevinger, pitched 200 innings, and Bauer would have reached that plateau as well had he not been forced out of the lineup for five weeks because of a stress fracture in his right leg.
“It’s exciting,” Bieber said of the rotation. “I think the sky’s the limit, not just the starting staff, but the team.
“With the starting staff in particular and what they did last year, and what we did last year, I wasn’t up the whole year, but to have four guys go 200 and 200 is pretty incredible, and hopefully, this year, we can make it a fifth and really start building off of that.”