Advertisement

Guardians jumble starting rotation for White Sox series

Apr. 7—Down the road the games will have to be played. For now, rainouts give the Guardians a reprieve as they look for ways to add to their starting rotation.

The game between the Guardians and Twins on April 7 at Target Field was rained out. That means Triston McKenzie, who was slated to start against the Twins, will be on the mound April 8 for the home opener at Progressive Field against the Chicago White Sox at 5:10 p.m.

Originally, Shane Bieber was scheduled to start the home opener, but on April 6 the Guardians announced Bieber needs Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. That prompted penciling in left-hander Logan Allen as the April 8 starter. But with the rainout, Allen will pitch April 9 against the White Sox. Tanner Bibee will pitch April 10 before the Guardians get a scheduled day off April 11.

Manager Stephen Vogt and his players are still trying to process losing Bieber for the rest of the season. Bieber was off to a superb start. He pitched six shutout innings against the A's and followed that with six shutout innings against the Mariners.

Carlos Carrasco was on the Indians' pitching staff from 2018-20 during the first three years of Bieber's time in Cleveland. Carrasco pitched for the Mets from 2021-23 after being traded to New York from the Indians in 2021. Now Carrasco is back with the Guardians after making the team as a non-roster minor league invitee to spring training. He feels his close friend's pain.

"It's tough. It's tough," Carrasco told reporters in Minnesota. "He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. To get that sad news is really hard, but someone is just going to step up and do it.

"The energy we have in here is great. It's unbelievable. We have really good pitching, but it's happening everywhere. I feel really sorry and bad for Bieber because every time he pitches he goes out there and competes. Everyone is going to be behind him."

Bieber is the third Guardians player sidelined by a pitching elbow injury this season, and it isn't even mid-April. Reliever Trevor Stephan underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of March. Starter Gavin Williams is on the injured list because of right elbow soreness. Williams has avoided surgery, but he is still "weeks away" from rejoining the Guardians, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said.

Losing his ace is the first real challenge for Vogt, who nine games into his managerial debut has his team in first place in the AL Central at 7-2. The White Sox, expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2024, are following the script at 1-8.

"It's hard to deal with this," Vogt said. "First and foremost I feel for Shane. The empathy and pain I feel with Shane and for Shane, that's what speaks the loudest for me now."

Vogt was a Major League catcher with Oakland just two years ago, so he understands exactly how the Guardians players are reacting to losing a teammate to a career-changing injury. Especially a teammate like Bieber, whom they know gave it his all every time he pitched.

"It's OK to not be OK, we're all hurting, but this is what it is," Vogt said. "We have an opportunity to still go out and play every day. The next man up mentality is what we have to be thinking about. You can't replace Shane Bieber, but we do have guys who can step up and give us meaningful innings."

Xzavion Curry and Ben Lively, currently pitching at Triple-A Columbus, are candidates to be the fifth starter behind Bibee, McKenzie, Logan and Carrasco. The rainout April 7, coupled with the scheduled off day April 11 gives Antonetti, Vogt and general manager Mike Chernoff some time to find a solution.

WHITE SOX VS. GUARDIANS

When: 5:10 p.m. April 8

Where: Progressive Field

Records: White Sox 1-7, Guardians 7-2

Pitchers: Chicago — TBA; Guardians — Triston McKenzie (0-1, 10.80 ERA)

TV: Bally Sports Great Lakes, WKYC; Radio: WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS-FM 100.7, WARF-AM 1350