The weekend performance that piqued my interest the most was Cleveland Indians right-hander Shane Bieber's achievement Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles. Yes, the Orioles are terrible but 15 strikeouts with nary a walk in a shutout is rare territory for someone under the age of 24. In fact, Bieber is the fourth-youngest hurler to accomplish the feat, after the amazin' Met Dwight Gooden, Chicago's Kerry Wood -- with the best pitching performance I have seen, the 20-K one - and Philly's Vince Velasquez when he embarrassed the lowly San Diego Padres in April 2016 and created a world of expectations he has continually fallen short of reaching. Bieber has expectations and he is delivering.
Bieber was on my list of sleeper pitchers for a reason, so I gobbled him up in as many leagues as possible. It was clear early on when he was dominating in Double-A that his command of pitches was impeccable and he rarely walked hitters. I could not rank Bieber as a top-30 starting pitcher entering 2019, because others deserved it more, but I was thinking it. I wanted to see him tame left-handed hitters, who skewered him for a .909 OPS his rookie season. His other rookie numbers were better than it appeared, as his FIP, xFIP and SIERA showed someone who deserved a far better ERA, and I thought he would get strikeouts, though 15 in one game is a bit aberrant.