During the 2020 regular season, Indians right-hander Shane Bieber led the majors in a host of categories -- ERA (1.63), strikeouts, ERA+, strikeout rate, and WAR among them. He was simply dominant at every level, and he deserves to be the unanimous choice for the AL Cy Young award. Along the way, Bieber never allowed more than three runs in a start, and in nine of his 12 starts he allowed two runs or fewer.
That's the first time Bieber has allowed seven or more runs in a start since April 21 of last year. Not since Sept. 15 of last year has he allowed nine or more hits in a game and multiple home runs in a game.
As is typically the case, Bieber in Game 1 leaned heavily on his fastball and curve, but fastball command undermined him. He either missed spots or allowed his fastball to ease back over the plate late in its journey on multiple occasions, and the finally healthy Yankees lineup made him pay. For instance, here's Aaron Judge getting a middle-middle fastball in the first inning:
And here's Gleyber Torres in the fifth getting a fastball that's a little lower than the one Judge received but still too much over the heart:
Also hurting Bieber's cause is that the Yankees weren't offering at his breaking stuff:
Yankees swung at just 16 of 42 (38.1%) breaking pitches (slider/curve) thrown by Shane Bieber.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) September 30, 2020
That's the lowest rate by a team in any of his starts this season.
A lack of fastball command in tandem with a powerful lineup that's spitting on your curve is a dangerous mix for a moundsman, and that was certainly the case for Bieber in Game 1. As such, Cleveland is now just one loss away from seeing the franchise's 71-year title drought be extended by another year.