Shane Bieber has opportunity to prove doubters wrong in 2024

Baltimore Orioles v Cleveland Guardians
Baltimore Orioles v Cleveland Guardians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages

By now, everyone is very well aware that Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Shane Bieber is going to have a lot to prove in 2024. It was another down year for the 2020 Cy Young Award Winner, and a midseason injury only managed to negatively impact his stock leaguewide. It is those reasons in particular that resulted in Bieber being considered as a middle-of-the-pack Ace in a recent list.

Put together by Bleacher Report's Tim Kelly,  Power Ranking Every MLB Team's Ace Entering 2024 Season has Bieber checking in at number 16. Kelly had the following to say as a contributing reason as to why Bieber finds himself outside the Top-10 Aces in 2024, "But between injuries and a velocity decline, there are enough concerning trends with Bieber to have some pause about him from a long-term perspective.". These are incredibly valid points that everyone has heard, said, read, etc. countless times before, but that does not mean they are not true, because let's face facts here, they are. The good news is that Bieber appears to be aware of this and has taken some steps to help his cause and prove he is better than a mid-tier Ace.

Last month, Bieber was at Driveline getting some work in. Bieber's fastball velocity during this session was much better than what he was able to show last season. Additionally, Bieber's curveball velocity and vertical break were nearly identical to his 2020 form. Seeing notable improvement with these two pitches, in particular, should bode well for his outlook moving forward. 

If Bieber is able to take this opportunity and show that he is better than he is currently perceived, it is going to help the Guardians no matter how their season plays out. If they are in the playoff hunt, Bieber can be the leader of a very young staff that can hopefully qualify for postseason play by either winning the American League Central or the less likely route of a Wild Card berth. But if 2024 plays out in a less successful manner, the Guardians will have one of the top arms available on the trade market that will hopefully result in a bidding war. There is even a scenario that sees the Guardians in the playoffs but still trading Bieber to bolster their lineup at the deadline.

All of this comes down to Bieber being able to pitch well enough for one of these outcomes to take place. The opportunity is right in front of Bieber to go out there and show the entire baseball world that he deserves to be ranked among the best Aces in the game.