On July 15, the Cleveland Guardians placed Shane Bieber on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.
Despite the fact he hasn’t shown his most dominant version this year (3.77 ERA in 117 innings, with “just” 95 strikeouts), losing Bieber for an extended period of time damaged the Guardians’ chances of advancing to the postseason.
They are too far behind at this point, but Bieber is set to return from the injured list if his performance on his minor league rehab assignment is any indication.
Bieber threw 3.2 scoreless, hitless innings in his most recent start for the Columbus Clippers in Triple-A.
Another hitless rehab start by Shane Bieber!
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) September 17, 2023
It’s fair to say his elbow is in much, much better shape.
Getting Bieber back to make two or three starts in September is very important for the Guardians even though they likely won’t make the playoffs.
Bieber, one of the most talented pitchers in the American League when healthy and a Cy Young award winner in 2020, is a free agent after the 2024 season.
The Guardians, with so much young pitching talent (Tanner Bibee, Triston McKenzie, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen, Xzavion Curry, and others), are unlikely to sign Bieber to an extension.
If that’s the case, trading him this offseason is a real possibility, and it would be much easier to flip him if teams know he is healthy and effective.
If he happens to log a couple of dominant outings before the season expires, look out because there could be an offseason trade involving the right-hander.
Every resource the Guardians have in the foreseeable future needs to be directed to improving the offense, one of the worst in baseball.
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