Cleveland's rotation crisis has gotten even worse. Monday afternoon, manager Terry Francona told reporters that staff ace and reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber is being placed on the injured list with a shoulder strain, according to MLB.com's Mandy Bell. Bieber will not throw for two weeks, then be reevaluated.
Bieber, 26, was tagged for five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings by the Mariners on Sunday. It was the most runs he's allowed since Game 1 of the Wild Card Series last year, and and most hits he's allowed since his final regular season start in 2019. He allowed multiple home runs off his curveball in a single start for the first time in his career.
For the most part, Bieber's velocity was fine Sunday, which is a good sign for a guy with a shoulder injury. His spin rates were down though, particularly on his curveball and slider..
"I think it's searching for that feel," Bieber told Bell about his curveball Sunday. "Pitches, pitch grips, feel with them come and go throughout the long season like this. Honestly, I'm feeling my slider and curveball a little bit better than I was three, four, five starts ago. It just comes down to setting them up better and executing more consistently."
It's worth noting Bieber has thrown an MLB-leading 90 2/3 innings this season. He threw only 82 innings last year, postseason included, so he's already over last year's workload. Bieber's career high is the 214 1/3 innings he threw in 2019. He may not be the only pitcher who needs a little midseason break this year as his workload surpasses last year's.
Cleveland is already without Zach Plesac, , and youngsters Triston McKenzie and Logan Allen pitched so poorly earlier this year that they've been sent to Triple-A. In recent weeks Sam Hentges, Jean Carlos Mejía, Eli Morgan, and Cal Quantrill have made spot starts. Aaron Civale is the only member of the Opening Day rotation on the active roster.
Typically a pitching powerhouse and among the game's best run prevention teams, Cleveland ranks only middle of the pack in ERA (4.10), ERA+ (108), and runs allowed per game (4.27) this season. The offense hasn't been great either (20th in MLB with 4.15 runs scored per game), yet Cleveland is 34-28 and only 1 1/2 games behind the Astros for the second wild card spot.
Cleveland opens a four-game home series with the Orioles on Monday. Mejia will start the series opener and by followed by Quantrill and Civale on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The team has not yet announced their starters for Thursday and Friday.