That indicates that Cleveland will reinstate Bieber from the 60-day injured list Friday. As reflected on the MLB.com injury tracker, the club is hoping for Bieber to throw around 80 pitches. The 2020 AL Cy Young winner tossed 64 pitches on Sunday in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Columbus.
Bieber hasn’t pitched in a big league game since July 9. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Guardians announced he’d been dealing with forearm discomfort. An MRI revealed elbow inflammation that led the club to shut him down entirely for a few weeks. While there was never any suggestion he could require surgery, the issue was serious enough to cost him almost all of the second half.
His return comes too late for Cleveland to make a move in the standings. They’ll be eliminated from postseason contention with their next loss or a Minnesota win. Barring a nine-game winning streak to close out the year, they’ll finish with a sub-.500 record. Bieber’s return won’t mean much in the standings, though he’ll get to make two or three starts to hopefully demonstrate a clean bill of health heading into the offseason.
Assuming he’s healthy, Bieber figures to be a popular target in trade discussions. The Guardians have shown a willingness to move quality starters as they get close to free agency, dealing away the likes of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. There was some thought they’d do the same with Bieber this summer, though his injury took that off the table. Cleveland did flip Aaron Civale to Tampa Bay for top first base prospect Kyle Manzardo instead.
Bieber is making just north of $10M this season. He’ll be due a raise on that sum for what’ll be his final arbitration campaign next year. Bieber is coming off a relative down year by his standards. Prior to the stint on the injured list, he’d turned in a 3.77 ERA with a career-low 19.4% strikeout rate through 19 starts.
Opposing teams will surely still have interest in prying him from Cleveland. It remains to be seen if the offers will be strong enough for the Guardians to make a move. Cleveland figures to make another run at competing in the AL Central. The second-year trio of Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen makes for a strong rotation nucleus, but Cal Quantrill and Triston McKenzie have struggled through injury-plagued 2023 campaigns.
McKenzie could also make it back in the coming days. MLB.com notes that the Guardians are hopeful the righty could take the ball in Sunday’s series finale; the club still lists their probable starter for that game as to be determined. The Guardians already have an opening on the 40-man roster for Bieber after waiving Matt Moore this week. They’d need to create a spot for McKenzie if he comes back this weekend, which could be accomplished by transferring Bibee to the 60-day IL due to his season-ending hip issue.