CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from March 4, 2021.
On Friday, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona made the obvious official when he announced that Shane Bieber will serve as the team's Opening Day starter against the Detroit Tigers on April 1.
That Bieber will be the first pitcher to toe the rubber for Cleveland this season hardly comes as a surprise as the 25-year-old enters 2021 as the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Starting 12 games during a regular-season that was shortened to 60 games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Bieber amassed an 8-1 record, 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts, becoming the first pitcher to win an MLB Triple Crown since Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins did so in 2006.
This season will mark the second in as many years that the right-hander will serve as Cleveland's Opening Day starter. Last year, Bieber set an Indians' Opening Day franchise record by tallying 14 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
While Bieber's status as Cleveland's ace was a foregone conclusion, the rest of the Indians' rotation includes more question marks at this point than it typically has in previous years. While Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale have secured starting spots, Francona continues to continue to work through his options for the rest of the rotation, with Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill, Adam Plutko, Logan Allen, Scott Moss, and Sam Hentges still vying for starting spots in Spring Training.