Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 58 days
Neil Ramirez put himself into the Cleveland Indians’ bullpen plans with some promising numbers during the 2018 season, but he was not able to turn in a second such effort last year while wearing the number 58.
The 30-year-old, who avoided arbitration when he inked a $1 million pact with the team in November of 2018, won a spot in the team’s bullpen out of spring training and saw some steady work in the first month of the season. He made eleven appearances with mixed results and ultimately became a man pitching with the Indians behind in ball games. He allowed two runs in each of his first two outings before making four scoreless appearances, but a combination of the free pass and the long ball hurt him later in the month. He allowed solo runs on April 14 and 16 (both via home run), but did earn his second hold of the season in the latter performance. Two games later, he gave up another blast (one of four hits allowed in an inning of work) and was tagged with three runs in a 3-1 loss to Miami. He walked a pair in his final start of the month on April 28 against Houston, giving him seven walks and four homers allowed in an eleven-inning span to open the year.
Ramirez did not enter a game in May with the Indians playing from in front. After three scoreless efforts in the first week of the month, he allowed his fifth homer of the year in a 4-3 loss to Oakland on May 10. A week later, he was hit hard by Baltimore, which tallied three hits off of him in two-thirds of an inning while plating a run.
The following day, Ramirez was designated for assignment with the Indians in need of a roster spot for Adam Plutko. Unable to replicate his better numbers from the season prior, including an 11.0 K/9 rate, a 3.89 BB/9 mark, a 2.83 K/BB ratio, and good results in the chase and whiff departments, Ramirez cleared waivers unclaimed and was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus.
Ramirez continued to pitch inconsistently back in the minors. He worked 25 times for Columbus, posting a 4.91 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He did help himself by accumulating 45 strikeouts over 29 1/3 innings (including at least one in 23 of his 25 appearances), but his walk rate remained high with eleven in that span (3.38/9). Less than a week after allowing seven of ten batters to reach safely (four hits, two walks, and one hit by pitch) in a five-run mess against Gwinnett on July 26, he was given his release from the Clippers on August 2.
He was not to be kept down for long, as he signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays just days later, reuniting him with one of his former clubs. After just two minor league appearances, he was called back up to the big leagues, but the results remained the same as in Cleveland. After a scoreless debut, he gave up a pair of solo homers to Texas on August 14 and three runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers in his next game August 20. He walked two in that game, then again on August 23 and August 30 before his walking papers came on September 1, when he was designated for assignment and outrighted to Buffalo. Ramirez declined the assignment and became a free agent.
Over 22 appearances between his two stops (including 16 in Cleveland), the 2007 first round pick was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP with a .274 batting average against. He signed in December with the Los Angeles Angels on a minor league deal with a non-roster spring training invitation.
Ramirez’s time in Cleveland mirrored most before him to wear the number 58, which has a bit of bad juju to it at this point. Many have worn the number, but few have parlayed that time and opportunity into an extended stay, either in an Indians uniform or with the other Major League options available.
Prior to Ramirez, the most recent to take it to the field was T.J. House, a soft-tossing left-hander who impressed with a surprise effort in his debut season in 2014. After his impressive debut that season (5-3 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 19 games), he became a starting rotation candidate, but a shoulder injury the following season and a crowded staff in 2016 left him trying to crack the 25-man roster as a bullpen option. That failed and, after being designated and outrighted in September, he became a free agent and moved on to the Toronto Blue Jays for 2017 and the Chicago White Sox for parts of the 2018 season.
House is one of just three players to represent the number 58 on the field for the Indians club for more than one season.
Right-handed starter Jeanmar Gomez came up in the number 58 for Cleveland and made his Major League debut at the age of 22. His results were mixed over the course of his three seasons with the Indians from 2010 to 2012 as he failed to latch onto a spot in the starting rotation despite several opportunities. He won 14 games in his three seasons, but put together a 5.18 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in over 200 innings of work, giving up 10.5 hits and 3.1 walks per nine innings.
He was dealt to Pittsburgh in 2013 and eventually transitioned into the role of a reliever, extending his career. He spent five years in Pennsylvania (two with the Pirates and three in Philadelphia including a 37-save season for the Phillies in 2016), brief minor league stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners, and pitched out of the Chicago White Sox’s bullpen in 2018. He pitched 16 times for the Texas Rangers a year ago.
Many of the remaining names on the list of 58’s in Indians history are not only pitchers, but hard-to-remember individuals based on several short stays in the organization. Guys like Juan Lara, Chardon native Andrew Brown, Jason Anderson, Joey Dawley, Heath Murray, and Jamie Brewington all suited up in the digits in the first decade of the 21st century. David Huff hung around the Majors for eight years after spending his first five big league seasons in Cleveland. Steve Farr was the first to wear it in 1984 during his first of two stints in Cleveland that came a decade apart during an eleven-year career.
Only catcher Omir Santos (one game in 2013), outfielder Brian Giles (six games in 1995), and first baseman Jim Wilson (four games in 1985) have worn the number as position players for the club. Giles was the most successful of that latter collection, but his best years for the Tribe came in the number 22.
Photo: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)