Cleveland’s Shane Bieber holds the record for the most strikes through two in Mani vs. Twins


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Shane Bieber, Cleveland’s talented 25-year-old right-hander, made history on Thursday night against the Minnesota Twins in his second start of the season. Bieber threw eight shutout innings, permitting three hits and no walks and striking out 13 batters along the way. That performance, combined with his 14 strikeouts on Opening Day, tied him with Karl Spooner (1954) for the most strikeouts through two starts in a season since 1901. 

Here’s the rest of the top five in that category, according to the FOX Sports broadcast:

Karl Spooner

1954

27

Shane Bieber

2020

27

Curt Schilling

2002

26

Vince Velasquez

2016

25

Nolan Ryan

1978

25

Bieber’s grand outing also helped Cleveland’s staff as a whole make history. They became the first team to ever have their starters strike out 10-plus batters four times through seven starts, according to MLB Stats.

Overall, Bieber has now delivered 14 shutout innings to begin the season. He’s sprinkled in seven hits and one walk, meaning he’s sporting a 0.00 ERA and a 27 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It’s only two starts, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the season will be played to completion so as to allow for awards to be handed out. As it stands, though, it’s fair to write that Bieber is performing like a legitimate contender for the American League Cy Young Award.

Bieber’s success stems from two factors above all: fastball command and his curveball. His control has been on point, as evidenced by his walk total, but command is more than throwing strikes: it’s essentially a mastery of pitch location. That can mean locating to both sides of the plate, as he does, and it can also mean elevating above the hands, or even above the zone.

By placing the fastball wherever he wants it, Bieber is able to set up his breaking ball (and vice versa). On Thursday, he threw 34 curveballs, according to Statcast. Of those 34, six were called strikes and another nine generated whiffs. In Bieber’s first start out, his curveball coerced an empty swing on nearly 70 percent of the opposition’s attempt to hit it.

Presuming Bieber remains on schedule, he’ll make his next start on Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds. At this rate, expect it be a good one.

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