The wrong kind of hits keep landing for the Tribe, as the Cleveland Indians announced on Monday that starting pitcher Shane Bieber was being placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained right shoulder.
Left-handed reliever Kyle Nelson was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to help the bullpen in the days ahead.
The loss of the American League’s reigning Cy Young winner leaves the Cleveland rotation, once its strongest asset, with Aaron Civale and a load of question marks. Bieber joins fellow starter Zach Plesac on the injured list, as he has been out after a fluke right thumb fracture took him out of the rotation.
Bieber had not looked his usual self at points throughout the season, but that came to an exclamation point on Sunday when he allowed a season-high five runs on ten hits in a loss to the Seattle Mariners. Following the game, medical scans revealed a right shoulder subscapularis muscle strain.
“He didn’t want to go on the IL,” Indians manager Terry Francona said in regards to Bieber. “That’s the kind of teammate he is. We said, ‘We want you to have a long, healthy career.’ And we don’t want him limping through it. That’s not fair to him.”
The 26-year-old right-hander leads all of baseball or is tied for the lead in starts (14), innings pitched (90.2), batters faced (383), and strikeouts (130) entering play on Monday.
The loss of Bieber leaves the starting rotation in shambles. Aside from Civale, who leads the AL in wins with nine, there are spots aplenty for the taking, but none of the cast of candidates have been up to the task. The team dealt Adam Plutko to Baltimore before the start of the season and has seen both Logan Allen and Triston McKenzie flounder in multiple outings in the back end of the rotation. Sam Hentges has made four starts and is working out of the bullpen now, while Eli Morgan was shelled in his Major League debut. Cal Quantrill has made two starts and 18 relief appearances, but he would need to get stretched out if he were to help the rotation long-term, while the results have been mixed from Jean Carlos Mejia, who is scheduled to start Monday night’s contest against the Baltimore Orioles.
There is no time table on Bieber’s return, but he is expected to be shut down for at least a couple of weeks before being re-evaluated. In the meantime, a tough season for the Tribe may only get harder and will test the bullpen, a surprise strength for the club for much of the year.
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