Cleveland’s crucial matchup against division-rival Minnesota was postponed Friday due to weather, so the Indians are still 3 1/2 games out in the American League Central race. The notable injuries the Indians have faced this season could help keep them out of the playoffs, though they’re just a half-game back of the AL’s second wild-card spot. Let’s check in on a few of the club’s banged up players…
- Right-hander Corey Kluber has “a pretty long way to go in his rehab,” according to Zack Meisel of The Athletic. That jibes with a report last week which indicated Kluber probably wouldn’t return this season. The Indians have been without the two-time American League Cy Young winner since he suffered a fractured forearm May 1 – a start in which Kluber’s uncharacteristic early season struggles continued. The 33-year-old yielded a whopping 23 earned runs in 35 2/3 innings prior to his injury. Regardless of whether Kluber pitches again in 2019, the Indians will have to decide when the year ends whether to exercise his option for $17.5MM option or buy him out for $1MM after the season. As horribly as this season has gone for Kluber, it’s hard to believe the Indians will cut him loose without getting something in return.
- Third baseman Jose Ramirez, another integral member of the club on the injured list, is now playing catch without a wrap on his wrist, per Meisel. However, whether he plays again this season will come down to an ability (or lack thereof) to swing a bat. Ramirez underwent surgery on a fractured right hamate bone Aug. 27, when it was reported he’d need five to seven weeks to come back. The former MVP candidate hasn’t come close to his previous production this year, but he began revisiting his prior form over the previous couple months. The Ramirez-less Indians have mostly turned to rookie Yu Chang at third, though the 24-year-old’s offensive numbers have paled in comparison to the work Ramirez did after he bounced back from his sluggish start.
- Closer Brad Hand, who has been down with a tired arm since last weekend, won’t pick up a ball again until Sunday, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports. It’s unclear how much more time Hand will miss after that, but this clearly isn’t overly promising news considering the importance of every game left on the Indians’ schedule. The 29-year-old has arguably been Cleveland’s best reliever this season, having recorded a 3.36 ERA/2.89 FIP with 12.94 K/9, 2.88 BB/9 and 34 saves on 39 attempts in 56 1/3 innings.
- Outfielder Tyler Naquin, who tore his right ACL last month, underwent surgery Thursday, Meisel tweets. It’ll take Naquin seven to nine months to return to the majors, which means he’ll miss at least some portion of next season. In the meantime, Naquin will make his first trip through arbitration during the winter. The 28-year-old wrapped up his 2019 as one of the Indians’ top outfielders, as he batted .288/.325/.467 with 10 home runs and 1.5 fWAR in 294 plate appearances.