Shane Bieber is the unquestioned ace of the Indians’ pitching staff, but Aaron Cilvale would be forgiven if he cleared his throat and said, “Hey, fellas. What about me?”
Bieber, the reigning Cy Young Award winner in the American League, is 7-3 with a 2.96 ERA. He leads all of baseball with 122 strikeouts — coincidentally the exact number he recorded last year when he finished 8-1 in a season shortened to 60 games because of the novel coronavirus.
Civale is 9-3 after shutting down Seattle in the first of a three-game set with Mariners. He has the highest win total in the American League.
Civale pitched brilliantly. He gave up a weak single to Seattle leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford, hit a batter and walked one in the first inning to load the bases then retired 22 straight Mariners. He struck out 11 and threw 101 pitches through eight innings. Blake Parker pitched the ninth.
Civale (like Bieber) does not tax the bullpen. He has gone at least six innings in 10 of his 12 starts and seven-plus innings six times.
Bieber and Civale are keeping the Indians close enough to the White Sox (4.5 games behind Chicago at the start of play June 11) to stay in the A.L. Central race.
Meanwhile, although there is no target date for his return, Zach Plesac is making steady progress from the fractured thumb he suffered May 23 ripping off his T-shirt…