Cleveland Guardians player Shane Pepper started the opener for the third time in a row on Thursday, but there was cause for concern.
The start of the 2022 season at the Cleveland Guardians wasn’t just the return of baseball, although that was certainly a big part.
Ice shooter Shane Pepper also got a chance to come back after missing an important time in 2021.
Bieber sustained a shoulder injury in the second half of last season and only made two appearances after the All-Star Game. However, after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery, he was ready to go for opening day on a reserved account.
Shane Bieber’s return to work for the Guardians may raise concerns
The Guardians pulled the starter after 72 throws against the Royal Family, and that’s not necessarily a cause for concern. He hasn’t had full spring training to get back up to speed and the team plans not to rush him.
But, Frank Stampfel pointed to one major concern About the outing: Bieber’s fastball averaged 90.6 mph, the lowest of any professional start.
Finally, Bieber 4.2’s roles went well. Hitting fours, he allowed three hits and waived an earned run that could have gone as easily as a foul.
However, concerns about speed were not limited to Stampfl alone.
Bieber’s 4-seam fastball averaged 92.8 mph in 2021 and that was its lowest since the junior season. This pitch threw an average of 94.1 mph in 2020.
The Guardian, who lost 3-1, can hope the weather played at least some role in limiting Bieber’s speed. It was cold and windy. Hardly ideal conditions for a bowler.
Whatever the reason, he’s going to need to improve on that front to be really effective this season, even if it’s a good outing to open the season.