There’s room for improvement, but it’s not much.
Bieber already has an All-Star Game MVP effort, a 15-strikeout complete game and a team-high 10 wins to his credit this year. His 4-0 gem at Rogers Centre just missed becoming the first Cleveland Indians' no-hitter in 38 years.
Bieber faced 29 Blue Jays, striking out 10 and recording his third (questionable) hit batsman in his last two outings. He fired 102 pitches, barely missing a “Maddux” — a complete-game shutout on fewer than 100 — for the second time this year.
Bieber said he felt his changeup was his most effective pitch, but he did not throw too many once he and catcher Kevin Plawecki settled into their gameplan.
“My slider took a little bit to get down and the fastball was moving quite a bit,” Bieber said. “Once I got that under control, it started rolling a little bit.”
Bieber retired 13 consecutive Toronto hitters after Justin Smoak bounced into a double play in the second inning. He was able to counter adjustments made by Blue Jays hitters after his first time through the batting order.
“They were sitting slow and soft early,” Bieber said. “We kind of recognized that and were able to throw some fastballs in some offspeed counts to get them off balance and make them think a little bit. We did a good job of mixing it up and keeping them off their toes.”
Manager Terry Francona praised Bieber’s composure, especially after Eric Sogard’s ground-rule double in the seventh broke up his no-hit bid.
“He’s maturing so fast, and he’s barely got a year under his belt,” Francona said. “It just looks like he’s going to get better and better. It’s fun to watch.”
Bieber’s teammates marveled at the level of consistency and productivity he has achieved since the beginning of the year. Outfielder Greg Allen said Bieber has maintained his composure and given Cleveland’s offense a chance to come through, even when run support has been hard to come by.
“He’s done it despite a lot of the craziness that’s gone on around him in these last few starts,” Allen said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody have so many hit by pitches or what would be foul balls. Those kind of things. But he held it down and gave us a chance to add on late. He was phenomenal.”
Below are a few more phenomenal facts about Bieber’s brilliant outing on Wednesday.
Shut 'em down, shut 'em out
Bieber joined Carlos Carrasco (2015) and Josh Tomlin (2014) as the only Tribe pitchers in the last 10 seasons to throw one-hit shutouts. He is also the only MLB pitcher with two complete-game shutouts on the year.
Bieber, Trevor Bauer (June 16 vs. Detroit) and Carrasco (May 9 against Chicago) make the Indians the only MLB team with three complete game shutouts. Last year, not a single pitcher recorded more than one complete-game shutout.
The last pitchers to throw two or more complete-game game shutouts in a season are Clayton Kershaw and Ervin Santana in 2017.
Wednesday also marked Bieber’s team-leading 10th win of 2019. He becomes the third Cleveland player in the last 19 seasons to win 10 or more games multiple times before the age of 25.
It was Bieber’s second shutout with at least 10 strikeouts. He whiffed 15 Baltimore hitters on May 19. The last time an Indians pitcher age 24 or younger had multiple 10-strikeout shutouts in a season was Dennis Eckersley in 1976.
Bieber becomes one of eight Indians pitchers to throw a complete game one-hitter since Len Barker tossed his perfect game in May of 1981.
The Indians have now gone 6,105 games without a no-hitter. If they don’t throw one before the end of the week against Kansas City, they’ll surpass the longest stretch without a no-no in American League history, held by the Tigers with 6,108 from 1912 through 1952.
The longest streak in MLB history is 8,944 games by the Phillies from 1906-64.