Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie to pitch at Lake County later this week

Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona provided a much-awaited update on the possible returns of two veteran pitchers. Tito stated that Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie will pitch at Lake County later this week. Bieber is slated to pitch Thursday, while McKenzie will pitch Friday. Possible minor league rehab starts could follow for both pitchers.

Francona would also add that a possible return for their two veteran starting pitchers is around September 20th. Of course, the availability of Bieber and McKenzie for the Guardians may be contingent on the Guardians making a dent in the American League Central division lead of the Minnesota Twins. If Cleveland can find a way to make things interesting down the stretch, the Guardians may need Bieber and McKenzie at the end of the year to make a push for the postseason.

There is another scenario in which Bieber and McKenzie may be needed to finish up the season, even if the Guardians are no longer in the postseason mix. With four rookies currently in their rotation, they could be shut down due to reaching innings limits, and Cleveland could opt to allow their two veterans to get on the mound one last time before the season is up. However, if the Guardians are truly out of the race, it may be better for all parties involved to just shut them down as well, and piece together their pitching rotation for the final handful of games should they be eliminated or be on the brink.

The 2023 season did not go well for Bieber or McKenzie. Bieber saw his velocity and strikeout rate continue to drop, while McKenzie was limited to just two starts with mixed results at best. There was a very good chance that Bieber could have been dealt at the trade deadline if he did not go down with an injury. Cleveland would instead deal Aaron Civale to Tampa in exchange for highly regarded first base prospect Kyle Manzardo. The Guardians could still shop Bieber this offseason but may be better off waiting until sometime next season, as his value on the trade market is not particularly high right now.

Whether or not Bieber or McKenzie pitch again for the Guardians this season, it still has been an impressive campaign for their pitching staff. Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen, and Xzavion Curry have delivered results from serviceable backend starters to the ace of the staff. The Guardians rotation should be in good hands moving forward, thanks to their young group of starters ready to usher in the new era of pitching in Cleveland.