Shane Bieber Reached Five Wins Before The Entire Pittsburgh Team
Cleveland right hander Shane Bieber has undoubtedly had a great first month of the 2020 season, leading the American league in just about every pitching category. He is tops in victories, strikeouts, wins above replacement (WAR) and innings pitched, as well as owning the lowest earned run average at a microscopic 1.11.
His dominance has drawn comparison to Hall of Fame hurlers such as Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver, although it is much too early in his career to place him on a list among those names. Bieber does however have a chance to do something that no pitcher in Major League Baseball has ever come close to achieving, as a look back at his most recent start brings into the realm of possibility.
Bieber entered Thursday's start with four wins, which happened to be the same total as the opposing team had mustered. Suffering a dismal rebuilding season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have collected just four wins as we approach the end of the first half of the 2020 season.
True to form, Bieber struck out two in a scoreless first inning, and he gladly watched as his teammates got him a run in the second. Unfortunately, Cleveland’s offense pretty much shut down from there, forcing Bieber to continue keeping the Pirates off the score board.
He ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up back to back leadoff singles but managing to keep Pittsburgh at zero. He encountered similar danger in the next inning, as once again the Pirates struck two singles.
Even though Bieber still had the shut out, he was lifted in the seventh with just the smallest 1-0 lead. His relief corps kept the blanks on the board, and his chance for a victory improved when the Indians plated a second run in the seventh.
After out number three was recorded in the bottom of the ninth, Bieber had earned his fifth win of the season. It also marked the first time in Big League history that a pitcher, at least one month into the season, had more individual wins than the team he was facing.
To keep up such a pace will be nearly impossible, given that Bieber will appear just once every five games. Even if he were to win every start for the rest of the season, he would end up with no more than a dozen victories.
Pittsburgh would have to lose at a historically large pace if they fail to reach that mark, playing under .200 ball the rest of the way. The Pirates in fact showed no intention of suffering that ignominy, as they won their next two games to up their total to six.
Keep in mind, though, the trade deadline is approaching, and Pittsburgh is one of the few teams who will be open to trading some of its top players. Cleveland, on the other hand, will be looking to add offense.
Should the Indians acquire a slugger or two, its lineup will be a great complement to an already stellar pitching staff. If Pittsburgh decides to trade off its best pieces by the same deadline, the idea of Bieber matching their win total would not seem so far-fetched.