The return of Shane Bieber draws ever closer. The Cleveland Guardians right-hander is slated to make a rehab start for the Akron RubberDucks, their Double-A affiliate, on Tuesday night.
Even though this rehab start will not mean much in terms of this season for the Guardians, getting back on the mound and pitching is important for Bieber. The 28-year-old has been sidelined since July 9th with an elbow issue, slowly working his back towards pitching in the majors again.
It is not only about getting back on the bump and pitching well that matters. It is about building confidence moving forward for the 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner. Bieber's Velocity and strikeout numbers were noticeably down this year. They were at a level that suggested that his best days were clearly behind him. While the injury sustained during this year could have played a factor, this is not a new development for Bieber. Both areas have been steadily dropping the past few seasons, but the larger difference seen this season could very well be rooted in injury.
Should Bieber be able to return to the Guardians rotation before the year is up, do not expect all that much in terms of pitching volume. Bieber is still coming back from an elbow injury, and those must be handled very carefully to avoid re-aggravating said injury or resulting in a much more catastrophic series of events.
Looking ahead, expect the Guardians to at least entertain trade conversations involving Bieber. This is an organization that wisely listens to trade offers for every player on the roster. Even if they do not intend to trade a certain player, they at least listen to see if a team comes calling with a Godfather Offer, as all well-run teams do. While expecting this type of trade proposal for the current version of Bieber would be foolish, never rule anything out, because if there is one thing any team will overpay for, it is starting pitching.