Injured starters Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie could rejoin the Guardians on Sept. 20

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Guardians are targeting a Sept. 20 return for injured right-handers Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie to rejoin their rotation as they try to make up ground on the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young winner, has not pitched since July 9 because of inflammation in his right elbow, while McKenzie was placed on the injured list on June 17 with a sprained right elbow.

“Hopefully, they’ll stay on track and come back and pitch for us,” manager Terry Francona said Monday before a critical three-game series against the Twins, who lead the Guardians by five games.

“They’ve attacked what they’ve been asked to do, which is the way you want it. The hope is that there aren’t any hiccups.”

Francona, who previously declined to reveal a timetable, said the goal is for Bieber and McKenzie to make multiple starts for the Guardians in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Both will face live hitters later this week at Class A Lake County, then begin minor league rehab assignments, barring any setbacks. Once Bieber and McKenzie are capable of throwing 85 pitches, they will be activated.

Staff ace Bieber made 19 starts before the All-Star break, going 5-6 with a 3.77 ERA. Arm injuries have limited McKenzie to two appearances this year, totaling 10 innings.