Great pitching doesn’t always translate to the postseason. Just ask Clayton Kershaw, who has had plenty of spotty success throughout the years in the playoffs.
Not to single Kershaw out or anything – I only want to make the point that the postseason is an entirely different, often random, beast, and it’s hard to predict how players will respond to that environment.
For Guardians ace Shane Bieber, his first taste of the playoffs wasn’t a great one. In his first playoff start in 2020 – his Cy Young year – against the Yankees, he was torched for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. A small sample size to be sure, but it left the question of how Bieber might pitch in his second go-round in the postseason this year.
Well, he’s answered that question with emphatic dominance over two starts, as he held New York to just two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Friday’s 4-2 victory that tied the ALDS at one game apiece as it heads back to Cleveland for the weekend.
Things looked a bit dicey to start the game, as Bieber gave up a two-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton in the first inning. But Bieber ultimately settled in, pitched his way out of a couple jams, and kept the Yankees at bay, allowing the Guardians to claw their way back into the game before ultimately sealing the deal in the tenth.
In his first start of this postseason, Bieber completely shut down the Tampa Bay Rays over 7 2/3 innings, giving up just one run. In his 13 1/3 innings of work in the playoffs this year, Bieber has a 2.03 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks, the exact type of performance you need and expect from the anchor of your pitching staff.
The question can now safely be put to rest what kind of pitcher Bieber can be in the postseason. He is someone the Guardians can rely upon to pitch deep into a pressure-packed playoff game, giving Cleveland a chance to win every time he toes the rubber.
Just another reason to once again float the possibility of an extension out to him this offseason.
If you’re craving more Cleveland Guardians content during this playoff run, be sure to check out our podcast The California Penal League, which you can find on Apple, Spotify, and wherever else you get your podcasts.