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USATSI

Cleveland hosted the Royals for Opening Day on Friday (KC-CLE GameTracker), and the story on the home side was Shane Bieber's dominant outing. 

Here are the digits from the righty's outing:

Shane Bieber
CLE • SP • 57
vs. KC, Opening Day 2020
IP6
H4
R0
SO14
BB1
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Yep, that's 14 strikeouts in just 20 batters faced. That tally break's Gary Bell's Cleveland franchise record for strikeouts in a season opener (12 in 1960). Notably, Bell set his mark in 10 1/3 innings of work (!), while Bieber needed just six frames. In Bell's defense, though, it's a lot easier to come by strikeouts these days. Also notable is that Bieber came within one strikeout of tying the MLB record for Opening Day strikeouts. That's held by Camilo Pascual of the Washington Senators, who struck out 15 on Opening Day 1960. He achieved that mark in nine innings at the expense of the Red Sox.

Relevant color television footage: 

In the interest of equal time, let's give Royals outfielder Bubba Starling an assist for this Bieber strikeout: 

The Royals have a free-swinging lineup, generally speaking, and when you run into a pitcher like Bieber who mixes it up well, you can get some ugly outcomes. 

Bieber, 25, is coming off a 2019 season in which he deservedly finished fourth in the AL Cy Young balloting: 214 1/3 innings, 3.28 ERA/144 ERA+, 259 strikeouts, 6.48 K/BB ratio. Bieber has just average-ish fastball velocity as right-handers go, but he commands four pitches, including a pair of hammer breaking balls and that nasty changeup you saw above. He uses that full repertoire to devastating effect, as the Royals would surely attest.

Given that Cleveland traded away Trevor Bauer last season and then dealt Corey Kluber this past winter, they're no doubt betting that Bieber can continue performing at such a high level. If Friday's opener is any guide, then he'll do just that in 2020.