The Indians took a massive hit in late August when third baseman Jose Ramirez fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. Now, with the Indians fighting for a wild-card spot in the American League, Ramirez is working toward a regular-season return. There’s at least a possibility he’ll back for the team’s road series against the White Sox next week, Mandy Bell of MLB.com writes. That would give Ramirez a chance to play in the final six games on the Indians’ schedule.
The injury to Ramirez has been part of a long line of health issues for this year’s Indians, who look as if they will fail to take the AL Central for the first time since 2015. Ramirez’s aggregate production hasn’t come close to where it was from 2017-18, which is one reason they’re four games back of the Twins in their division, though he did recover from a brutally slow start this season before landing on the injured list. The 27-year-old switch-hitter owns a .254/.325/.463 line with 20 home runs, 24 stolen bases and 3.0 fWAR in 532 plate appearances, so he has certainly remained a quality player in 2019.
To its credit, Cleveland has more than hung in the AL playoff race sans Ramirez, having gone 13-9 dating back to his Aug. 24 injury. The Indians just defeated the Tigers, so they’ll be tied with the Rays for the AL’s last wild-card spot heading into Friday.
The Ramirez-less Indians have largely turned to Yu Chang at third base with Mike Freeman and Ryan Flaherty also seeing time at the position. Nobody from that trio comes with a ton of upside, though, and with the Indians having lost second baseman Jason Kipnis to a season-ending hamate fracture this week, it’s all the more important for their infield to get Ramirez back as soon as possible.