Cleveland Indians fans have been spoiled with amazing starting pitching since about 2015.
Having Shane Bieber as the ace in 2021 was just the continuation of this process.
And he has certainly lived up to the hype so far.
He has 110 strikeouts before the month of June and is one of the obvious American League Cy Young candidates.
But can this lead the team to the postseason?
Well, it is certainly clear that having a true ace does not hurt.
The problem now is the fact Aaron Civale is the only other healthy starting pitcher from the Opening Day rotation.
Or at least that is what the team is saying.
For now, Bieber has to be a star every five days.
Shane Bieber is the fastest in franchise history to reach 600 strikeouts.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 28, 2021
Can The Ace Carry The Team?
Bieber has been absolutely outstanding so far in 2021.
The strikeouts are their own story, but the most runs he has allowed in a single start remains at three.
Some fans may say an ace should have an ERA around 1.50 or lower, but never allowing more than three earned runs is quite the accomplishment.
That gives the Indians a chance to win every single time he takes the mound.
It is not Bieber’s fault the offense sometimes falters when he is pitching.
So far this year the Indians are 8-3 in games Bieber has pitched.
He has a 5-3 record to his own name.
The Next Man Up
Civale has been a true sidekick to Bieber so far this year.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) May 26, 2021
He has a 7-1 record and a 3.04 ERA, which is just a bit better than Bieber.
The difference is the strikeouts.
Civale is at 53, while Bieber is at 110.
But if he can still limit runs at a similar rate, it doesn’t matter how he gets the outs.
The one thing Civale has in his favor as well is a much lower walk rate.
He has only walked 17 batters on the year, compared to 27 for the ace of the staff.
Once again, the fact Bieber can prevent batters from putting the ball in play makes the walks less of an issue.
No Reason To Panic Yet
There are still so many questions surrounding this Indians rotation.
Plesac has been solid and isn’t expected to miss an extended period of time.
Triston McKenzie showed up after his demotion and logged a nice five innings.
Sam Hentges has dealt with control issues, but seems to be improving every outing.
The only thing that can’t happen is Bieber and Civale dealing with regression.
That would tank the pitching staff and the entire team, no matter how well the bullpen does on a nightly basis.