CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – In case you hadn’t heard, or seen it with your eyes over 18 innings of excruciating detail, the Indians’ offense is not hitting too well.
Over that stretch, the Tribe 9 is 4-for-56 (.071) with two solo home runs, two singles, seven walks and a hit batsmen against Doug Fister, Drew Pomeranz, Joe Kelly, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel.
Much of that can be attributed to injury woes sapping four key Indians from the team’s lineup over the last month, let alone those two games, while the likes of Yandy Diaz and Giovany Urshela get full-time duty.
Notably absent despite being at least healthy enough to play is All-Star Jose Ramirez, who is now hitting below .300 for the first time in over two months. The switch hitting infielder is 10-for-68 (.147) since August 3rd, when he entered play hitting .323.
“Other than (Astros second baseman Jose) Altuve, everybody in the league at one point kind of comes back a little bit,” Manager Terry Francona said. “He just doesn’t seem to do that. He’s been in a little bit of a rough stretch where sometimes you just don’t see that ball as good as others.”
To his latter point, Francona maintained that Ramirez is watching pitches that wind up being called strikes, and “peeling off” on pitches, turning line drives into fly balls.
Predictably, the numbers back the future Hall of Famer’s words up. Since August 3rd, Ramirez’s line drive rate is down to 7.5 percent from his season rate of 20.7 percent. Though Ramirez’s flyball rate has actually dropped two percentage points, Francona’s latter point can be seen by the jump in soft contact from a season average of 16.9 percent of batted balls to 26.4 percent.
Ramirez’s groundball rate in that stretch has also risen above his season average, sitting at 54.7 percent compared to 40.1 on the year.
The 24-year old is also swinging at 5.7 percent fewer pitches in the strike zone.
For an 18-game stretch from May 6 to May 27, Ramirez went through a similar stretch, going 13-for-68 (.191) and seeing his average dip from .311 to .265 in the early going. In that time, the switch hitter did not have abnormal batted ball numbers, but did have a similar difference in swings in the zone, with 6.9 percent fewer.
But at no point has Ramirez expanded the strike zone by a great degree overall, swinging at 25.6 percent of pitches out of the zone in his mid-May rough patch, 25.8 in his current stretch, and 25.2 for the season.
“The good part about Josie is he’s a known, very good hitter,” Francona said. “He’ll get hot again.”