CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – In his finally appearance of the regular season, Shane Bieber ended on a high note.
In Cleveland’s 3-2 win against the Chicago White Sox, the right-hander looked like the front-runner to win the American League Cy Young Award Winner for the 2020 season.
Bieber tossed five innings for the Indians (32-24), giving up an unearned run, two hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts.
The 2019 All-Star Game MVP finished the regular season with an 8-1 record, pitched 77 1/3 innings, 21 walks, 122 strikeouts and a 1.63 ERA.
Opposing hitters batted .167 against him this season. He also struck out at least eight batters in each of his 12 starts this year, which is the second-longest streak of games with eight strikeouts to start a season since 1901.
“I’m not going to get caught up in this stuff but I have to say consistency,” Bieber said. “It’s been nice to go out there to have that consistent confidence going day in and day out. Not just outing-to-outing, but day-to-day. Putting in the work and showing up day-to-day, and putting in work into my routine has been a big part of what’s going down this year.”
Bieber struggled in fourth inning against the White Sox (34-22). Jose Abreu reached base on a fielding error and moved to third on an Eloy Jimenez double. Edwin Encarnacion drove in Abreu on a ground out, but Bieber struck out James McCann and Luis Roberts to limit any more damage.
“It’s special ... it’s nice to be out in the outfield and not have to do a whole lot,” Jordan Luplow said, who hit the game-winning home run in the ninth to seal the Cleveland win. “Playing behind that, you know you have a chance to win every day. He’s a leader on the field and in the clubhouse.”
Another young starting pitcher in the Indians’ pitching factory made his first appearance out of the bullpen. Triston McKenzie, who was put in the bullpen due to his velocity dropping on his fastball, didn’t miss a beat in his first bullpen outing.
McKenzie pitched two scoreless innings of work gave up a base hit and had three strikeouts.
“He slid right in,” Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar said. “He threw 94, 95 with a good wipe-out breaking ball. That’s a good option for us in the ‘pen and it’s pretty exciting to see that.”
McKenzie isn’t used to sitting in the bullpen, but there’s not much difference than sitting in the dugout to watch his teammates.
“As much as there’s joking around in the dugout, there’s much intel on the game,” McKenzie said. “They study hitters, they watch Bieber or whoever the starter is – they pay attention. They have their notes down there, and when it’s time for the game it’s go time. I got that vibe down there tonight and it helped me tonight.”
McKenzie joked about sitting in the bullpen with James Karinchak.
“I don’ think it’s possible for that guy to sit still in anyway, shape or form,” McKenzie said with laugher.