The Cleveland Guardians All-Century Team
C.C. Sabathia (2001-2008)
Corey Kluber (2011-2019)
Carlos Carrasco (2009-2020)
Shane Bieber (2018-Present)
Mike Clevinger (2015-2020)
The pitching of this 21st-century team features some of the best pitching talents of the last two decades in baseball. Outside of these five, there were many other pitchers who were in the discussion. However, these five represent the pitchers who have the best combination of stats, longevity, and skill during their time in Cleveland.
C.C. Sabathia was one of the best pitchers on the team in the 2000s. Yes, he put up an ERA above 4.00 in four of his eight seasons, but he won the 2007 AL Cy Young award, as he won 19 games with a 3.21 ERA and 3.14 FIP in 241 innings pitched. Additionally, Sabathia was nothing short of an innings eater as he never threw fewer than 180 1/3 innings, which occurred during his rookie year.
Corey Kluber had, by fWAR, the two best seasons by a Cleveland starting pitcher in this century; he put up 7.2 fWAR in each of his two Cy Young seasons (2014 and 2017). In 2014, he put up a 2.44 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 160 ERA+, and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. In 2017, Kluber pitched 203 2/3 innings with a 2.25 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 202 ERA+, 0.869 WHIP, and 265 strikeouts. In his Cleveland peak, from 2014 through 2018, Kluber averaged 218 innings pitched with a 2.85 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 151 ERA+, 246 strikeouts, and 6.3 bWAR. Along with winning two Cy Young awards in this span, he also finished third in voting in 2016 and 2018.
Onto Carlos Carrasco, who has been one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball since his debut in 2009. He finished as high as fourth in Cy Young voting in 2017, as he posted a 3.29 ERA and 226 strikeouts in 200 innings. During his eleven years in Cleveland, Carrasco put up a 3.77 ERA, 3.42 FIP, and 114 ERA+. His best years, like Kluber, came from 2014 through 2018 as he averaged a 3.27 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 131 ERA+, and 171 innings pitched each year.
Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger are arguably the two most interesting names to be added to this century team. Bieber made his debut in 2018 while Clevinger debuted in 2016 and got traded to San Diego in 2020. It is not their longevity in Cleveland that puts them on this team – it’s how they performed during their years here. Bieber has cemented himself as a top-ten pitcher in the sport with some of the best strikeout stuff we have ever seen. Granted, it came in a shortened season, but Bieber’s 2020 Cy Young performance was nothing short of brilliant. He led baseball with a 1.63 ERA, 122 strikeouts, 2.07 FIP, and 14.2 K/9. He might not have finished a full season with numbers that great, but he sure looks like he still would have been a Cy Young favorite.
As for Clevinger, he struggled to pitch fully healthy seasons in Cleveland. Only once did he clear the qualified mark for innings pitched. However, pitch-for-pitch, Clevinger was one of the best pitchers in the sport from 2017 to 2020; in that time he posted a 2.96 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 152 ERA+, and 10.2 K/9.