The Indians’ playoff hopes were dealt yet another devastating blow on Tuesday, this time in the form of a season-ending diagnosis for Jason Kipnis.
The Cleveland Indians are beginning to resemble the cast of a violent television drama in its final few episodes. One by one, core characters are picked off at various points, each departure increasingly more emblematic of the somber mood hanging over the series.
Jason Kipnis is the latest Tribe casualty, though his injury is a familiar one. Kipnis fractured the hamate bone in his right wrist less than a month after Jose Ramirez suffered a similar injury to the same hand.
Kipnis will undergo surgery with a recovery timetable of 4-6 weeks. He is all but finished playing baseball in 2019. In a way, the Indians are right back where they started the 2019 season, missing half of their infield due to injury and lacking in capable replacements.
A team with a comfortable division lead might be able to coast past this haymaker and still set itself up favorably for the playoffs. The Indians, whose backs are already up against the wall, just saw their road get considerably more bumpy. Those that remain will need to play like cornered rats over the final 12 games if the Indians are to advance to October.
Adding to the melancholy nature of this development is that Kipnis is likely to become a free agent after this season. The Indians possess a $16.5-million team option on the second baseman for 2020, but it would be extremely surprising to see them bring him back at that price.
I’ll hold off on declaring Kipnis’s tenure with the Indians to be over until we see what the offseason holds, but seeing his final guaranteed year in Cleveland end with an injury is a gut-punch nonetheless.
However this season ends, Kipnis, Cleveland’s longest-tenured position player, deserved to be there to see it through. With 12 must-win games remaining, the Indians will have to pull off the unthinkable without him.