Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber was the unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, capping an impressive rise by the right-hander to his status as one of the game’s best pitchers.
Using a versatile repertoire that includes a looping curveball and a wipeout slider, Bieber went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 77⅓ innings during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, leading the majors in ERA and strikeouts and tying Yu Darvish for the most wins.
Bieber became the second player in franchise history to win the AL pitching Triple Crown, joining Hall of Famer Bob Feller in 1940. He was the first pitcher to lead the majors in all three categories since Johan Santana for Minnesota in 2006.
Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda finished second in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, followed by Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Bieber was the first unanimous American League winner since Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers in 2011. It was the 10th time that an AL pitcher was listed first on every ballot.
“Today’s a good day regardless,” Bieber said. “It just makes it that much better that we were able to take this thing home and that it was unanimous.”
The 25-year-old Bieber, a former walk-on at UC Santa Barbara, was selected by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft. He made his major league debut in 2018 and went 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA. He really started to show off his potential last year, winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game and finishing with 15 wins and a 3.28 ERA.
Before this season started, Bieber got a text from former Indians teammate Trevor Bauer, who was traded to the Cincinnati Reds last year. The right-handers had the same Las Vegas odds for the Cy Young Award.
“I said … why don’t we go 2-for-2, or something like that?” Bieber said.
Bauer on Wednesday became the first pitcher to take home the NL honor for the Reds, the majors’ oldest franchise.
|Shane Bieber, Indians||30||—||—||—||—||210|
|Kenta Maeda, Twins||—||18||4||2||4||92|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu, Blue Jays||—||4||7||5||4||51|
|Gerrit Cole, Yankees||—||2||6||10||4||50|
|Dallas Keuchel, White Sox||—||5||4||5||4||46|
|Lance Lynn, Rangers||—||1||3||4||1||22|
|Lucas Giolito, White Sox||—||—||3||2||5||18|
|Chris Bassitt, Athletics||—||—||2||1||2||10|
|Dylan Bundy, Angels||—||—||1||—||2||5|
|Liam Hendriks, Athletics||—||—||—||1||3||5|
|Framber Valdez, Astros||—||—||—||—||1||1|
“Nobody’s more deserving of it than him, and he knows what he wants, and he knows how to go out and get it,” Bieber said. “And we keep in touch. I was truly pulling for him, and you know, so is my family. And I know he feels the same way, so it’s special.”
Bieber and Bauer, two California natives, made it an Ohio sweep on the mound in 2020. They are the third pair of former teammates to win Cy Young Awards in the same season, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. Greg Maddux and Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello in 2016 also accomplished the feat.
Bieber gives Cleveland its fifth Cy Young Award since CC Sabathia won in 2007. Cliff Lee won in 2008, and Corey Kluber took home the honor in 2014 and 2017. Gaylord Perry in 1972 is the only other Cy Young winner for the Indians.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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