The Cleveland Indians are known for their pitching.
That is not a new storyline, but remains an important one given the up-and-down state of the offense in 2021.
But several pitchers are standing out above the rest as they live up to high expectations this season.
Here are three in particular.
3. Shane Bieber
We start with the most obvious of all.
Shane Bieber remains a favorite to win another American League Cy Young Award after a hot start to the season.
He has 110 strikeouts through 11 starts and is sporting a 3.13 ERA.
That is the best in the rotation just ahead of Aaron Civale.
Bieber’s work speaks for himself.
Shane Bieber is the fastest in franchise history to reach 600 strikeouts.
For the record, that's a franchise that includes Bob Feller, Sam McDowell, Corey Kluber … etc.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/g3rVT2j8tv
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 28, 2021
His ERA is not the best in the league, but 3.13 is well above average.
The offense should be capable of scoring at least three or four runs on any given night.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case with Bieber on the mound this year.
The good news is the Indians have one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound every five days.
2. Emmanuel Clase
The Indians acquired Emmanuel Clase in the Corey Kluber trade and didn’t see him last year due to a PED suspension.
Emmanuel Clase stealing Hamilton's soul. ☠️🪦 pic.twitter.com/O1RGxjrG7A
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 1, 2021
But his absence did not matter too much given the state of the 2020 season.
Clase has shown up this year looking absolutely dominant.
He has a 1.19 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning through two months of the season.
The most fun part of any Clase outing is him routinely throwing over 100 miles per hour.
The problem with him can be walks.
When Clase is on, he is on.
But he can lose control quickly and try to fix it just by throwing hard.
Overall, he appears to be a true steal from the Texas Rangers in the Kluber trade.
1. James Karinchak
Most of the talk this year is about Clase.
James Karinchak has pitched the same amount of innings and has double the strikeouts with 42, through Monday’s first game.
His 16.7 K/9 mark is almost unheard of and he stands with Clase as two legitimate closing options in the bullpen.
Add in Bryan Shaw and the Indians have a legitimate lethal trio in the back-end of the bullpen.
Karinchak made his debut in 2019 and proved himself to be a worthy option as closer.
But as Indians fans know, talented relievers on a Terry Francona coached team don’t necessarily need to be saved for the ninth inning.
It worked for Andrew Miller and it can work for Karinchak.
The Indians would be a total disaster if not for the great trio in the bullpen.
The same is true for Bieber and Civale in the rotation.
Hopefully, the other arms on the staff can step up as well and exceed expectations.
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