Jose Ramirez was all but sure to miss the rest of the regular season with a hand injury, but he’s coming back in the final week to help the Indians secure a Wild Card spot.
Jose Ramirez was one of the hottest hitters in baseball when he injured himself on a swing in late-August. He was expected to miss 5-7 weeks with a broken hamate bone in his right hand, which meant he’d be out for the rest of the regular season at minimum. But he started taking batting practice last week, and according to multiple reports Ramirez is expected to return to the Indians’ lineup Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
After a win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night, the Indians are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card in the American League. The AL Central title is all but a lock for the Minnesota Twins, with a four-game lead and six games to go, so the Indians have to take a Wild Card spot or they’ll be home for all of October.
The Indians started slowly as a whole this season, and Ramirez was one of the poster boys with a .209/.311/.318 slash-line through June 1. But right in line with Cleveland erasing all of what was an 11.5-game deficit behind the Twins on June 2, Ramirez posted a .298/.345/.596 slash-line (.941 OPS) with 16 home runs and 58 RBI from June 5-Aug. 23.
In 22 August games before his injury, Ramirez hit .321/.372/.705 with 20 RBI and 17 extra base hits. Yu Chang has been the primarily fill in for Ramirez at third base for the Indians over the last month, and he had a .190/.282/.302 slash-line entering Sunday.
The AL Wild Card race is sure to go all the way to next Sunday, with the Oakland A’s two games clear in the top spot as the Rays and Indians try to find advantages wherever they can in a more direct battle for the second spot.
Getting Ramirez back might be the thing that gives the Indians a real leg up during the final days of the season, assuming he seamlessly hits his stride after being one of the best hitters in baseball from the All-Star break up until the time of his injury.