There is a certain performance level that is expected when Shane Bieber is on the mound. While that level has made the occasional appearance, it almost entirely escaped him as the season reached the All-Star break and that is very concerning.
Four of Bieber's final five starts before the break were far from ideal. Cleveland's former Cy Young Award winner allowed four or more runs during that span with a two-hit eight strikeout shutout performance against a Kansas City Royals squad that is not exactly a powerhouse. Cleveland was not able to take advantage of one of Bieber's better outings though, losing by a score of 4-3.
Opponents have not exactly been fooled when facing Bieber, slashing .259/.331/.500 with an OPS of .831 This includes the lone outing which Bieber kept the Royals off the scoreboard, making this slash line against him much more alarming. Getting knocked around in Arizona by giving up five runs on seven hits including three home runs does not help matters here. Being able to pitch well in advantageous matchups is an asset for any team, but it is the pitchers who can shut down the best teams in the league that are truly coveted. Right now the latter does not occur often enough when BIeber is on the mound and that is something that has to change.
The struggles for Bieber are not exactly a recent development. Going back even further (11 games), Bieber has a 4.68 ERA in 65.1 innings of work. This also includes a .271 batting average against and .772 on-base plus slugging. The longer record of down performances is not exactly helping the Guardians when it comes to any trade discussions with the trade deadline approaching. There have been noted concerns about a drop in strikeouts and fastball velocity, adding a string of these types starts on top of that is less than optimal.
If the Guardians are unable to continue being in the division race mix or decide to trade Bieber anyway to help out their pusuit of a second straight division title, they are still going to get something worthwhile in return. Being able to sell a trade partner on getting two potential postseason runs is an angle that can be taken advantage of.
Cleveland can also wait if they do not like what teams are offering or if they view themselves as having a better chance with Bieber on their roster. They must be cautious if they decide to take that approach as what they get in exchange will decrease substantially at that point. It is a very delicate line that the front office must walk in order to handle this situation properly. If not, there could be some long-term ramifications that can be difficult to overcome.