Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Why I'm Not Afraid of Shane Bieber for Game One Tonight

 The New York Yankees begin their quest for the franchise's 28th World Series Championship tonight inside Progressive Field when the team takes on the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the AL Wild Card Round. The Yankees will have their ace on the mound, Gerrit Cole, while the Indians will counter with an ace of their own in Shane Bieber. Bieber has had an amazing 2020 campaign which included him winning the Triple Crown for pitchers, leading both leagues in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. That would normally spell disaster for the Bombers in October, but for some reason (and maybe it is actually having an ace of our own on our side this time around) I still feel confident tonight with Cole on the mound. Bieber is tough, but Bieber is not unbeatable, and here is why. 


  • Bieber has a batting average against of .092 this season when the ball is hit to an infielder, but has a BAA of .506 when hit to an outfielder. Easier said than done, but don't hit it to an infielder and the Yankees should be fine... right?


  • Bieber has never started a postseason game. Fans or not, that means something in my opinion. 


  • Bieber is susceptible to damage in the second inning, posting a 3.75 ERA in the second inning in 2020. 


  • Bieber compiled many of his stats against opposing team's offenses that do not stand up well when compared to the Yankees offensive capabilities. Facing DJLM, Judge, Voit, Stanton, etc. is not the same as facing Detroit, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Milwaukee or even Cincinnati. 


  • We still have Gerrit Cole on our side.


  • Bieber has not allowed a single home run inside Progressive Field in 2020. Zero. 


  • Bieber has been money with five and six days rest, and last pitched on 9-23. Bieber should be sharp and on his game tonight in Cleveland. 


  • Bieber is a strike out pitcher that will throw right-handed against a predominantly right-handed offense that is prone to the strikeout. 

Yankees fans, there's hope tonight. While the Bombers offense may not string together many hits or put up many crooked numbers, one thing you have to remember is that Bieber's stats were accumulated by beating up on the AL Central and NL Central, not the AL East. Don't get me wrong, the NL Central is tough and they sent four teams to the postseason in 2020, but Bieber hasn't really faced an offense like the New York Yankees much. 

Bieber faced the Royals twice, Detroit twice, and Pittsburgh once while facing off with the Minnesota Twins three times (twice without Josh Donaldson), Milwaukee once (barely slipped into the 8th seed in the NL) and the White Sox twice including Bieber's final start of the season. 

Bieber is good, Bieber is damn good in fact, but he is not unbeatable. It won't be easy, but if Cole World and Higgy can hold down Jose Ramirez and their offense I feel supremely confident that we will leave tonight with a victory and a 1-0 series lead. I've been right about a lot this season, and I don't expect to start being wrong now. 

AL Wild Card Game 1 - New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians

 This is what 60 games have led to, the 2020 MLB Postseason. The playoffs this year will be a little different than what we are used to, but I don't think that will make the second season any less interesting. Instead of five teams per league we have jumped to eight teams in each league, a total of 16 teams out of 30 have made the postseason, and two of those teams we will see on the field tonight inside Cleveland's Progressive Field. In the opener of the best-of-three series a pair of aces take the mound looking to give their team an early 1-0 lead in the series. On the mound for the Yankees will be Gerrit Cole, Cole World and Higgy, while the Indians will counter with presumptive 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber for Cleveland. 

This is why the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole, for a start just like this one tonight in Cleveland. Cole struggled early on in this 2020 campaign, but has seemingly turned things around just at the right time with his personal (yeah, I called him that. So what? Does anyone really want to continue to doubt me on this subject at this point?) catcher Kyle Higashioka. Cole has a career 2.60 ERA in this postseason across 10 starts including an impressive run in the 2019 MLB postseason that included a 4-1 record and a 1.72 ERA. 

Shane Bieber won the triple crown for pitchers in the American League in 2020, but all that and about $15 will get you a beer at the stadium tonight (if fans were allowed in attendance). Bieber will be making his first career postseason start tonight after posting an impressive 1.63 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 2020. The fans will not be a factor tonight, so I fully expect Bieber to be tough tonight with the Yankees heavy right-handed lineup looking for the big hit. 

The game starts at 7:08 pm ET inside Cleveland's Progressive Field and can be seen nationally on ESPN. Go Yankees!