Indians host Pirates, who are gunning for 11th straight win (Jul 24, 2018)
CLEVELAND -- The next chapter of the Shane Bieber story will be written Tuesday night at Progressive Field, in the second contest of a three-game series, when he takes the mound for the Cleveland Indians against the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates won the first game of the series Monday night, 7-0, to extend their winning streak to 10 games.
Bieber is the Indians' 23-year-old right-hander who started the 2017 season at low Class-A Lake County and a year later is the surprise member of the Indians' major league starting rotation.
The rapid ascension of Bieber to the majors is partly a case of being in the right place at the right time. Bieber was next in line after Danny Salazar (injury) and Josh Tomlin (poor performance) fell out of the rotation. Bieber (5-1, 3.53 ERA) has taken advantage of his opportunity.
In a combined 13 starts at Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron this year Bieber was 6-1 with a 1.47 ERA, while averaging 11 strikeouts and 0.8 walks per nine innings.
Tuesday will be Bieber's eighth start for the Indians, and while he's pitched better than expected overall, he has had some stumbles in recent games.
In his first four starts in the majors Bieber was 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA. In his last four starts he is 2-1 with a 5.21 ERA. The most recent of those starts was a 6-5 win over the Yankees on July 13. Bieber pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits, with six strikeouts and two walks.
The three-game series with the Pirates marks the home debut of the Indians' two new relief pitchers, left-hander Brad Hand and side-arming right-hander Adam Cimber, who were both acquired last week in a trade with San Diego for Cleveland's top minor league prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia.
Indians manager Terry Francona values the addition of both, Hand because he's a two-time All-Star and Cimber, because his side-arm delivery brings a degree of funkiness to the bullpen.
"We're going to get him in and out of games. He's not going to pitch two innings," Francona said. "But it's a different look, and if you throw strikes, which he does, you've generally got a guy who is going to be successful."
Bieber's mound opponent Tuesday night will be Joe Musgrove. Musgrove (3-4, 4.08) will face a Cleveland lineup that will include designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who has missed the last two games with a bruised right hand.
Musgrove was one of four players the Pirates acquired from Houston in the blockbuster offseason trade that sent Pirates ace Gerrit Cole to the Astros. Musgrove started the season on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, so his start Tuesday will be his 10th of the season.
Musgrove won his first two games of the year, going 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA, but in his last seven starts he is 1-4 with a 5.31 ERA. In his last start he got a no-decision in a 7-6 Pirates win over Milwaukee on July 15. In that game Musgrove threw a career-high 106 pitches over 7 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, with five strikeouts and four walks.
In one career start against Cleveland, on May 21, 2017 as a member of the Astros, Musgrove lost 8-6, giving up seven runs and eight hits and three walks in three innings.