Indians' Jose Ramirez set to rejoin team in final week, and he could be a huge boost for Cleveland's wild card hopes
Cleveland is engaged in a tight playoff race, but will get some help in the form of Ramirez
With just one week remaining in the regular season, the most compelling remaining playoff race involves the second wild card spot in the American League. Entering play on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays held a game lead over Cleveland. The Rays lost on Sunday afternoon, meaning Cleveland could pull back into a tie with a win on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Whatever happens on Sunday night, Cleveland did receive some good news prior to the game. That's because Jose Ramirez, who hasn't played since Aug. 24 after suffering a fractured hamate bone, is expected to rejoin the lineup ahead of Tuesday's game versus the Chicago White Sox:
Ramirez had hit .254/.325/.463 (102 OPS+) in his first 126 games this season. Those numbers understate how productive he had been right before getting hurt, however. To wit, he'd batted .321/.372/.705 in 22 August games prior to the injury.
Even if Ramirez doesn't come back hitting quite that well, he should represent an upgrade over Yu Chang, who has served as the most-days third baseman as of late. Chang has hit .190/.282/.302 on the season.
Seeing as how that wild card position could boil down to a single game, Ramirez's return may end up making the difference.
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