Blue Jays: Potential pitching depth targets ahead of the trade deadline

Jun 6, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Liam Hendriks (31) follows
Jun 6, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Liam Hendriks (31) follows / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Starter Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians

After winning the AL Cy Young award in the pandemic shortened 2020 season, Shane Bieber’s strikeout percentage has declined from 41.1% to 33.1% in 2021, then 25% last year, to a career low 17.6% this season. While there are concerns about his velocity, according to Statcast, his fastball and slider haven’t declined by much at all.

The 28-year old could potentially become a free agent after next season, and Cleveland has a long history of trading away starters without much team control left, including Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. The Guardians have a solid, young rotation with Tristan McKenzie, Cal Quantrill, Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee. Should the Guardians trade him?

Could he be a “difference-maker” who could replace Manoah in a Blue Jays playoff rotation with Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt? He’s certainly got top of the rotation experience in the postseason and is a relative bargain at $10 million in salary this year. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility next year, and has pitched much better of late. For the season he has a 5-3 record with a 3.29 ERA over 14 starts and 87.2 innings. Only 64 Ks is a concern, although he did strikeout nine hitters over 7.0 innings, while only allowing three hits, a walk and no runs in his winning start on Sunday.

Bieber does have three postseason starts under his belt, including an outstanding start to propel the Guardians to an ALWC win over the Tampa Bay Rays in 2022, when he pitched 7.2 innings of one run-ball, with 8 Ks against only one walk.