Controlling WHIP should be your top priority when building an elite fantasy pitching staff. Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber delivers that in spades.
He came into 2019 with an incredible command of his pitches, which in turn led to his development into a legit ace arm. Last year, he led the American League with the lowest walk rate (1.7). This helped Bieber boost his strikeout rate (10.9) well above his minor league career average (8.4) and even the success he found in his rookie 2018 season (9.3).
Across three MiLB seasons, he posted a 16-6 record with a 2.24 ERA and 270 strikeouts over 277 innings. His best stat (which is unreal) coming into the majors was his 0.6 walk rate.
In 2019, Bieber made it very difficult for batters to draw contact (.230 BAA - .285 in 2018), although his home run rate was a touch high (1.3 per nine). He delivered near identical value against righties (.231) and lefties (.228) while posting an ERA under 3.70 every month. He gave up two runs or fewer in 22 of his 33 starts. Bieber’s HR/FB rate (12.1 in 2018 and 16.1 in 2019) was much higher than the minors (8.8 or lower in each season), so that’s a stat to watch moving forward. Bieber has an average velocity to his fastball (93.4) that is tough to hit (.229 BAA). Both his slider (.203 BAA) and curveball (.213 BAA) grade well while his show-me changeup (.309 BAA) requires improvement.
I don’t anticipate a repeat in his strikeouts, but he’ll continue to throw plenty of strikes. Look for his ERA to push below 3.00 and he will be in the mix for many wins since he pitches deeper in games because he can keep pitch counts low. Last season, he went into the seventh inning in 19 games, and five other starts went six innings. Bieber (ADP 32) has a strong floor and projects for 15 wins, 3.25 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 200 strikeouts.
READ MORE: 2020 Cleveland Indians Fantasy Team Preview