|Bieber, Indians take on Tigers|
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians have spent much of the first half of the season looking for a dependable No. 5 starter for their rotation to slot in behind Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger.
The Indians think they might now have found their No. 5, and he will be on the mound Friday night at Progressive Field against the Detroit Tigers.
He's 23-year-old right-hander Shane Bieber. A fourth-round pick by the Indians in the 2016 draft out of UC Santa Barbara, Bieber (1-0, 3.97 ERA) will be making his third start for the Indians, which he landed with his strong performance in the minor leagues this year.
In a combined 12 starts at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, Bieber was 10-5 with a 1.29 ERA. In 76 innings, he struck out 72 and only walked six.
Bieber is a premier strike thrower. In 2017, pitching at three minor league levels, he was 10-5 with a 2.86 ERA. In 173 innings, he had 162 strikeouts and only 10 walks.
Bieber's last major league start came June 17, a 4-1 win over Minnesota, in which he pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up one run, 10 hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
"He comes as advertised. He threw a lot of strikes, with one walk. He gave up a lot of hits, but because he didn't walk anyone, and executed a lot of good pitches with men on base, he came away allowing just one run," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Bieber has made two spot starts for the Indians this year, but after his last one, team officials decided to give Bieber a longer look in the rotation.
"This is the first time he's pitched for us and not gone back down (to the minors) after he pitched," Francona said. "I think settling into a routine at the big-league level will be good for him. To be able to watch guys like (Corey) Kluber during the week will really help. The people in our player development department rave about his temperament, his makeup and his work ethic."
The Indians come into Friday's game riding a four-game winning streak in which they have outscored their opposition 28-6. That includes a three-game sweep of the White Sox in which they outscored Chicago 24-5.
Bieber's mound opponent Friday night will be right-hander Mike Fiers, who has pitched well against Cleveland during his career.
In two starts against the Indians this year, Fiers is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA, having allowed two runs and eight hits in 13 innings with 13 strikeouts and two walks. In six career starts against Cleveland, Fiers is 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA.
Fiers' last start was a 4-3 Tigers win over the Chicago White Sox on June 15. Fiers worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk. He did not get the decision.
Although the Tigers are three games below .500 at 36-39, they come into Friday's game in second place in the American League Central, five games behind the division-leading Indians. Detroit had a five-game winning streak snapped by losing both games of a brief two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday with Cincinnati.