A Pitcher List Conversation with Tanner Bibee

Tanner Bibee discusses his arsenal with Renee Dechert.

This is the first in a series of conversations with professional baseball players. 

I talked with Tanner Bibee at the Coors Field visitors’ clubhouse when the Cleveland Guardians played the Colorado Rockies on May 27-29. 

First, a bit of background is in order. When visiting with players in the clubhouse, especially elite players, it can be difficult to arrange an individual conversation, so often these interviews are group affairs. Also present was Kevin Henry of Just Baseball, and some of his questions have been included. 

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Turn back the clock to April 26, 2023.

That was the day Tanner Bibee, 24, was promoted from the Columbus Clippers to the Cleveland Guardians to make his MLB debut against the Colorado Rockies.

To say he got off to a notable start would be an understatement as Bibee would become the first Cleveland pitcher in the Live Ball Era to record at least five consecutive strikeouts in his MLB debut. After 5.2 innings, Bibee would call it a day recording eight Ks and allowing only one earned run.



Sure it was the Rockies, who were not good, but eight strikeouts is impressive by any measure.

That was just the beginning.

Over the following 25 starts for the Guardians, he would earn a 2.98 ERA (141 ERA+) over 142.0 IP with 141 strikeouts. Bibee was key to keeping the Guardians in the AL Central race, even though his season ended in late September due to right hip inflammation. It was enough to land him second in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Just over a year later, the Guardians are again playing the Rockies even though Bibee will not pitch during this series. He was coming off a stellar game against the Los Angeles Angels in which he struck out six, with the Guardians going on to win, 4-3.



Kevin and I talked with Bibee about his approach this season.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

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Renee Dechert: I have some questions about your slider. It was very successful last year, but it looks like you’ve made some changes to it this year.

Tanner Bibee: Not intentionally. I think I’m a little more behind the ball this year—not intentionally—which kind of happened to be like that. It’s a lot harder this year. I honestly think it’s been a really good pitch. I think the only thing that’s changed is that when it’s not been as good is when my fastball command is not as good because it’s been in the zone a ton, got a lot of swing and miss from it this year so far.

RD: Your fastball was really working on your last start.

TB: Yeah.

RD: Is your arm angle different?

TB: So the one thing I wanted to do going into, I think, the start against the Rangers was trying to be more athletic. I think, in turn, that just kind of lowered my release site instead of trying to hike up so much. I think it relatively kept the same profile. I think I was averaging, like, 6.7’ on my release height before.

And I think against the Rangers, the Twins, the Angels, I think it was probably around anywhere from like 6.1’ to 6.3’. I didn’t see the one from last outing. But I think if I can keep the same profile and lower it by half a foot, it’s going to be really good.

RD: That’s a lot.

TB: Yeah. I don’t know why it works like that, but [laughs].

(Below are Bibee’s velocity and release point shifts over the season. Notice how his increased velocity corresponds with the lower release point.)


This line graph shows changes in Bibee’s velocity, which has steadily ticked up in 2024.

Tanner Bibee Velocity Changes | Brooks Baseball


This line graph shows changes in Bibee’s release point for his fourseam fastball.

Tanner Bibee Release Point Changes | Brooks Baseball

(Source: Brooks Baseball)

RD: Merrill Kelly told me, essentially, that sometimes pitch grips just leave him or they just change.

TB: Yeah, I mean, I think something I believe in is the body affects the ball, which affects the result. I think I could be moving just a little bit different this year and a little more efficiently. Ever since that Rangers start, my velo’s been up.

And I think that just kind of happens to be behind the baseball, and that’s just going to affect the ball.

So, hey, I’m not going to complain [laughs].

[Author’s Note: I’m working on a separate article this season about players who use yoga and/or Pilates as part of their training. I’ve decided to leave those answers in this transcript because I think they’re interesting even though they’ll ultimately be part of a separate piece.]

RD: Totally unrelated: Do you do yoga or Pilates as a part of your training?

TB: We do Pilates usually when we’re at home.

RD: Austin Gomber was just talking about how he uses Pilates to help him with back issues. What do you find that adds to your game?

TB: I think it just kind of adds stability and core strength. I think since we’re rotating a lot, having strength and mobility in the hips and the abs, the core, I think it just can’t hurt. It definitely cannot hurt, and it just provides a lot stronger base, I would say.

Kevin Henry: What are some of the biggest sequencing lessons you learned between last year that you took into this year?

TB: I think it really just kind of depends on what’s working that day, and I think the hitter—it depends on a lot of stuff. But I mean, there’s an endless amount of sequences you could do with heaters, with heater to breaking ball or breaking ball to heater. There’s the whole tunneling aspect of it.

I mean, the world is your oyster when you’re on the mound as long as you can tunnel, as long as you can sequence well, and obviously, with the hitter sitting on it, there’s so many factors that go into it. But that being said, there’s multiple ways to get someone out.

I think that’s just kind of the beauty of it.

KH: You talked about the velocity. How does that affect the other pitches as well?

TB: I think it makes them that much better.

I think my other stuff has taken a little bit of a tick up as well. But if I’m throwing—I think I’ve been averaging, like, 95 to 96 the past couple starts, and my change has been, like, 83 when before it was averaging 93 to like 81—I think that’s a big difference just because you have to get going earlier. I think that’s because my slider has ticked up, too. It looks more like a heater because it’s harder. There’s not much of a hump, and there’s probably less time to see spin.

KH: During this winning streak, what have you seen from this team? Obviously, the pitching numbers have been spectacular for you guys and the bullpen.

TB: I think just being relentless.

I mean, there’s been a lot of games—just against the Mets, I think we came back the last two games of that series. Even against the Angels, the first game, they hit a solo homer in the first, and I got right back on them early on in that game. So I think just not caring what the score is is what the hitters are doing a great job of.

I think the pitchers are doing a great job at limiting damage and being able to keep us in the game with the pen being lights out as always.

KH: During a series whenever you’re not taking the mound, what’s the focus for you personally.

TB: I think for me, trying to help out any way I can with the starters that are going or trying to be into the game as much as possible. Obviously I’m very focused on my next game against the Nationals. [Spoiler: Bibee was excellent, and the Guardians won the game.] But at the same time, that game does not matter right now because we’re playing the Rockies for three games, and then we go home on the off day.

So obviously in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about the Nationals, but right now I’m thinking about how these guys can beat the Rockies today.

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Additional Reading

Renee Dechert

Renee Dechert writes about baseball and fandom, often with a focus on the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. (She's also an English professor, but the baseball is more interesting.) Follow her on Twitter (@ReneeDechert) or Bluesky (@ReneeDechert.com).

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