The Yankees have been consistent to begin the 2023 season, taking two out of three in each of their first three series. They’re 6-3 with series wins over the Giants, Phillies, and Orioles, which is especially encouraging because all three of those were — at worst — solid ballclubs in 2022 (and pennant-winners in Philly’s case). Now, they’ll begin another three-game set against a legitimate ballclub: the Cleveland Guardians, who are a rock-solid 6-4.
For a pitcher outside of their division, the Yankees have seen quite a bit of Guardians starter Shane Bieber over the past few years, and they’ve done a better job against him than most of the league. He’s received Cy Young votes during three of the past four seasons and won in the shortened 2020, but he has a 5.74 ERA in three regular season starts against the Yankees. They also cleaned his clock in the 2020 AL Wild Card Series opener with seven runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings; Bieber somewhat recovered in Game 2 of last year’s ALDS, albeit while still allowing a pair of runs on five hits and a homer across 5.2 frames (though Cleveland won in extras).
Regardless, Bieber should not be taken lightly and is off to another good start in 2023 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.92 FIP, and 0.833 WHIP across two starts in Seattle and Oakland. His slider/cutter/four-seam mix is quite good even if he’s not throwing as hard as he did a couple years ago.
Opposing Bieber will be Domingo Germán, who I maintain is one of the least interesting pitchers in the world. At his best, he’s ... fine, like last year, when he posted a 3.61 ERA, 4.44 FIP, and 1.161 WHIP across 15 games (14 starts) — perfectly acceptable for a back-of-the-rotation guy. But he was not at his best in his 2023 debut last Tuesday against the Phillies, who touched him up for four runs on four hits in 4.2 innings. Although Germán fanned eight, Kyle Schwarber and Brandon Marsh each took him deep.
The Guardians are not nearly as much of a homer-hitting team as the Phillies, so Germán does have that going for him. Still, he’ll have to pitch carefully to the likes of José Ramírez and Josh Naylor. The free agent addition Josh Bell isn’t going to be blanked in that column for all of 2023, either.
Bieber might benefit from a reduced Yankees lineup tonight. Former non-roster invitee Willie Calhoun plays his first game with the team, and he gets a DH assignment while batting fifth. Both DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera will take seats on the bench, as New York rolls out an infield of Anthony Rizzo at first, Gleyber Torres at second, Anthony Volpe at shortstop, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa at third. Fresh off a hot series in Baltimore, Franchy Cordero gets the start in left field while Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton man center and right, respectively. With Rizzo, Cordero, and Calhoun, skipper Aaron Boone is leaning on his lefties against Bieber.
How to watch
Location: Progressive Field — Cleveland, OH
First pitch: 6:10 pm ET
TV broadcast: YES Network (NYY), Bally Sports Great Lakes (CLE)
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 (NYY), MLB.com, WMMS 100.7 FM (CLE)
Online stream: MLB.tv