The Guardians have placed right-hander Tanner Bibee on the 15-day injured list due to right hip inflammation, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic. Right-hander James Karinchak has been recalled in a corresponding move. With only two weeks remaining on the schedule, this move brings Bibee’s season to an end.
The Guards came into 2023 with their sights set on contention after winning the Central last year, but it seems they will ultimately fall short of that goal, currently seven games back of the Twins in the division and further out in the Wild Card picture. A significant issue for the club’s disappointing season has been the starting rotation. Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill all missed significant time due to injuries, while other pitchers struggled to fill the void.
The club fell in the standings and seemed to wave a white flag when they traded Aaron Civale to the Rays at the deadline. But they hovered close enough to contention in August that they grabbed Lucas Giolito off waivers from the Angels to try to mount a late-season charge that hasn’t really come to fruition.
The club was forced to turn to rookies like Bibee, Gavin Williams and Logan Allen in order to fill the void earlier in the year. Bibee has been the relative workhorse of the staff, with his 25 starts and 142 innings pitched both leading the club amid all the turmoil. It was a very successful first season for him, as he posted a 2.98 earned run average in that time, striking out 24.1% of opponents while limiting walks to a 7.7% clip.
Since he’s going to miss the remainder of the year, those stats will now go down as the totality of his work for the season. The Guardians should now be able to go into the winter with their 2024 rotation picture looking strong, at least on paper. Bieber and McKenzie are both currently on rehab assignments and will hopefully have better injury luck next year. McKenzie will qualify for arbitration this winter while Bieber is set for his final arb year. Bieber has been speculated as a trade candidate since the Guards frequently trade away pitchers as they get more expensive and closer to free agency, but his value is at a low ebb due to his health concerns and diminished results this year. He’ll also be making a significant salary, due a raise on this year’s $10.01MM figure.
But alongside those two and Quantrill, who is also arb eligible, the Guards should be encouraged by the development of their rookies. In addition to Bibee’s aforementioned results, Allen posted a 3.60 ERA over 23 starts while Williams has a 3.29 ERA in his 16 outings. That gives them six viable starters in next year’s mix.
Without Bibee, the Guards may need another starter to slot into the rotation for the final two weeks alongside Williams, Allen, Giolito and Quantrill. As mentioned, Bieber and McKenzie are on rehab assignments and could be reinstated. Joey Cantillo, Hunter Gaddis and Cody Morris are also on the 40-man and in Triple-A, though Morris has been pitching shorter stints out of the bullpen lately.