But what about Game 4?
The biggest “negative” to using Bauer out of the bullpen is either going with a three-man rotation or starting the rookie Bieber. Personally, even with Bauer in the pen, I’d stick with the four-man rotation and go with Bieber in Game 4. This probably will turn off many people, but Bieber has been quite good lately…and dare I say, actually quite great.
In the month of the September, Bieber posted a 4.63 ERA in six appearances, which on the surface looks bad, but he also posted a 2.96 FIP and 1.0 fWAR. Better yet, in his five September starts, Bieber posted a 3.56 ERA with a 1.94 FIP and 1.2 fWAR. That FIP was the fourth-best mark among starting pitchers and his WAR was sixth-best. The rookie is showing no signs of slowing down save for that one hiccup when he came in to relieve Bauer in the piggyback game recently.
The Indians can also protect Bieber by not extending him too long in starts. With Bauer in the pen, Bieber can go just four or five innings max in his start, helping to maximize his value as well as Bauer’s.
Why not Bieber to the bullpen?
This isn’t to say Bieber can’t go to the bullpen. Actually, I believe he’d be very good there. He wouldn’t be extended and could go just an inning or two (maybe three tops) and/or give some length should things go into extra innings.
But Bauer and his elite stuff would be even better. He’s got that unique, bulldog mindset that could be lethal in short bursts. Plus, the Tribe will need a stud right-handed reliever in the bullpen against the Astros who are predominantly a right-handed hitting club.
Right now, the only reliable right-handed arm in the pen is Cody Allen and as Tribe fans know he’s had his issues as well. So while Bieber would help, Bauer would help the bullpen more.