Cleveland Guardians dealt devastating blow, lose Ace to Tommy John

Cleveland Guardians v Seattle Mariners
Cleveland Guardians v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

The Shane Bieber comeback tour is over after just two starts.

It was announced on Saturday that the Ace of the Cleveland Guardians pitching staff will miss the rest of the season due to an elbow injury and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Bieber had some pain after his start on Opening Day, according to a report, and it was later revealed to be the same ligament that bothered him last season. The discomfort last year shut Bieber down just before the trade deadline and ultimately led to the Guardians deciding to trade Aaron Civale to Tampa Bay in exchange for Kyle Manzardo. Bieber did return to the Guardians' rotation late last season, making two starts with mixed results. The Shane Bieber comeback tour is over after just two starts. 

This is really a worst-case scenario for Bieber and the Guardians. Bieber was leading all of baseball in strikeouts (20) after his first two starts and looked well on his way toward making another run at getting another Cy Young Award. That is no longer an option, as Bieber will be sidelined for the rest of the 2024 season.

From the perspective of the Guardians' organization, they just lost one of, if not their best trade chip for later in the season. There has been plenty of speculation regarding Bieber's future in Cleveland, with most expecting that he was going to be dealt at some point this season. This injury now takes that possibility out of the equation, as the Guardians will again have to pivot to someone else to trade should that opportunity present itself.

There is an impact beyond this season that must be addressed. Bieber is set to become a free agent after the year, and now will be navigating those waters with just four starts to his name since the middle of last July. This is going to severely limit his opportunities in free agency and could ultimately lead to him signing a one-year "prove-it" deal, either with Cleveland or another organization willing to take a chance on him, while he attempts to rebuild his value.

The Guardians must move forward and piece together a rotation, as they are once again dealing with injuries to their pitching staff early in the season. It is not ideal by any means, and it makes their quest to win the division more difficult, but it is not impossible. They just need to regroup as best as they can and move forward, with the hope that a few other arms in the rotation can step up in the wake of Bieber's injury. If not, it could be a long season on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.