Bibee proves he's here to stay: 'There's a lot to like'

May 3rd, 2023

NEW YORK -- nearly had to pinch himself watching games at Fenway Park over the weekend. Just days prior, he was still with Triple-A Columbus, dreaming of when his big league opportunity might come. On Tuesday night, he was on the rubber at Yankee Stadium, ready to go toe-to-toe with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in just his second big league start.

The Yankees may not be trotting out their best lineup right now, given the slew of injuries the club is dealing with, but what would be an intimidating environment for any hurler new to the Major Leagues seemed to be just another day on the job for Bibee, who dazzled through his first five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth. The Guardians ended up dropping the contest, 4-2, but the biggest takeaway for Cleveland is that Bibee is certainly here to stay.

“To come into this atmosphere, to be so under control for the whole thing, to be able to make some big pitches when he needed to was huge,” Guardians catcher said. “I think it just shows his poise. He feels so comfortable on the mound, it looks like. It’s nice to see a guy come in like that, step right in and pitch some huge innings for us.”

In Bibee’s first big league start, he made history, becoming the first Cleveland pitcher to record at least five consecutive strikeouts in the live-ball era (since 1920), according to’s Sarah Langs and the Elias Sports Bureau. This time, he gave up a single to the third batter he faced before proceeding to retire the Yankees’ next 12 hitters, relying on his full four-pitch arsenal.

“It’s one of those things that, to be able to do that in an atmosphere like this,” Zunino said, “against a lineup like that, it’s not easy to do, especially with little familiarity with the club to begin with.”

In just two starts, Bibee has shown growth. In his debut, there were times that nerves got the best of him, especially with his heater. Overall, he wasn’t pleased with his fastball command. Against the Yankees, the fastball was electric, topping out at 98.6 mph while averaging 95.2 mph. Of the 16 outs he recorded, nine were on the four-seamer, five were on the slider and two were on the curveball.

“I thought I was pretty effective,” Bibee said. “I think the fastball command was definitely a lot better tonight than the first outing, so I think that was a big plus. And the breaking ball’s still there, too.”

In the sixth, Bibee gave up a one-out homer down the right-field line to Anthony Volpe. According to Statcast, the 345-foot shot would’ve been a home run in just six ballparks, but that included Progressive Field. The next batter, Gleyber Torres, sent a double to right on Bibee’s 92nd pitch of the game. The Guardians were hoping to keep him under 95 pitches, so manager Terry Francona decided to turn to , who allowed the game-tying run to score on an Anthony Rizzo single. Bibee’s night ended with him having given up two runs on four hits, with five strikeouts and no walks in 5 1/3 innings.

"Their starter was tough,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “First time seeing him; we thought he was going to be tough. I thought he threw the ball really well, and it was a challenge for us.”

The Guardians did have a brief scare when a 105.2 mph rocket came back at Bibee in the fifth inning, hitting his thumb on his glove hand. After a brief moment of being checked by the training staff, he remained in the game.

“Yeah, the thumb’s pretty good,” Bibee said. “It’s getting a little sore, but I think it’ll be fine. Nothing’s broken, I don’t think. So I think it’s going to be OK.”

The Guardians can breathe easily, knowing Bibee will be fine to take the ball again in five days -- something that seemed far from a guarantee just last week when he made his MLB debut in a spot start due to previous rainouts. But after the way he has pitched thus far, he’s earned the right to stay in this rotation.

“He competes, he throws all his pitches for strikes -- there’s a lot to like with this kid,” Francona said. “We’re going to enjoy watching to see how good he can get.”