2021 season age: 25
Contract: Pre-arb 2
Height: 6’3; Weight: 205
2020 stats: 77.1 IP – 122K/21BB – 1.63 ERA/2.07FIP – 8-1- 0.87 WHIP – 3.2 fWAR
2020 in review: Bieber struck out 14 batters in six innings in the 2020 opener and he was on a roll the rest of the way. With 122 strikeouts in 77.1 innings, upping his strikeout rate to an insane 41.1% rate, going 8-1. He sliced and diced his way to a unanimous Cy Young award and became the leader of Cleveland’s pitching staff. He did hit a speed bump with his command in his first ever playoff appearance, but that couldn’t overshadow how elite his performance was in 77 innings.
On the mound: Not satisfied with his success in 2019, and now 2020, Bieber continues to hone his arsenal to try to get better. He still throws his fastball as a primary pitch (94.1 mph – 37.4% usage rate) but he continues to mix his pitches in even more, mostly his curveball (26.3% usage rate). He also added a cutter in 2020 (89.3 mph – 16.2% usage rate) as his curveball and cutter overtook his slider usage that was his second most used pitch in 2019 (11.6% usage rate in 2020). He used his changeup 8.5% of the time in 2020. Bieber had an incredible 51.5% whiff rate on his curveball in 2020, but bested by a 61% whiff rate on his slider. His changeup had a 53% whiff rate in low usage and the cutter just 33%, followed by the fastball at 25.7%. The cutter is the only pitch opposing batters had success against off of Bieber (.289 average/.474 slugging). Every other pitch had an average of below .210 against.
Beyond the stats: Why did Bieber lean heavily on his curveball in 2020 as his best secondary offering, and his best pitcher overall really? He added 3 inches of vertical drop to the pitch from 2019 (up to 53 inches from 50). His slider also went from 34.9 inches of vertical drop to 42 in 2020. Every pitch in Bieber’s profile improved in vertical drop, helping his overall movement profile mix against hitters very well.
2021 role: When Cleveland called Bieber up to the majors in 2018, the rotation was anchored by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger. Three years later, Bieber is all that remains of that rotation and is the ace of the staff now. He’s taking on a team leadership role and has the experience and accolades to do so as well. Its has been quite an ascension from a college walk on at UC Santa Babara for Bieber.
Fantasy impact: Be ready to pay and draft early. Bieber will be one of the first 5-6 pitchers off the list. You won’t get another sub-2.00 ERA and holding a strikeout rate of 40% over 32 starts might be hard to repeat, but you can still count on Bieber to be the ace of your fantasy staff. He’s just as good an option as Gerritt Cole and probably just behind Jacob deGrom.