Cleveland’s Bieber Expected To Return To Cy Young Form In Guardians Uniform

Sportsbooks have Bieber as top contender behind Cole to be AL's top pitcher
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Cleveland Guardians ace pitcher Shane Bieber is looking to rebound from a frustrating 2021  baseball season in which he was limited to only 16 starts due to a shoulder injury.

The 2020 Cy Young Award winner is said to be healthy and ready to show that he’s back to the form that made him one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. The sportsbooks have recognized that during spring training with odds they’re offering on Bieber’s performance. 

Caesars, BetMGM, and DraftKings have odds of +700 on Bieber being named the American League Cy Young Award winner, with FanDuel at +900. Only New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has better odds at +350, according to Caesars. BetMGM has odds of +400 and DraftKings +425 on Cole winning the prize awarded to the league’s outstanding pitcher.

BetRivers has odds of +2500 on Bieber earning the most wins across MLB and +1300 on him recording the most strikeouts.

An Opening Day option to start

Cleveland manager Terry Francona hasn’t announced who will take the mound on Opening Day for the Guardians April 7 when they play the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Bieber, who has been one of the game’s best when healthy, figures to be on Francona’s short list.

 

Bieber avoided salary arbitration by agreeing recently to a one-year, $6 million contract. There have been reports about Bieber and the Guardians working on a long-term deal, but he’s arbitration eligible for two more years.

The 26-year-old right-hander pitched on Opening Day for Cleveland in Detroit a year ago, striking out 12 in six innings of work. He produced a 7-4 won-loss record and registered a 3.17 ERA before shutting down due to the shoulder injury. He pitched 96.2 innings, allowing 36 runs on 84 hits while fanning 134 batters and walking 33.

Returning to peak form

Bieber’s only time pitching in a game this spring didn’t exactly reveal he’s returned to peak form. He gave up four runs on three hits, including two home runs, while walking one and striking out one in 1.1 innings of work against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yet, there’s optimism in the Guardians clubhouse that Bieber is on schedule to become the dominant starter of the 60-game, COVID-shortened 2020 season. He topped the league in wins (8), strikeouts (122), and ERA (1.63) to become the only pitcher since Bob Feller in 1940 to earn the American League’s pitching “triple crown.”

Cleveland, which is playing its first season as the Guardians, is looking to contend for the AL Central title after placing second to the Chicago White Sox in 2021. Cleveland finished with an 80-82 record, 13 games behind the White Sox.

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