Danny Hultzen
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Cubs to promote Danny Hultzen

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Cubs minor league southpaw Danny Hultzen is finally getting a shot at the big leagues, per multiple reports from Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation and Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. The club is expected to formalize the promotion in the near future, though they have yet to announce the move or any related roster reshuffling.

Whenever it happens, it will be the culmination of a long and weary road for the 29-year-old lefty. Hultzen was selected by the Mariners in the first round of the 2011 amateur draft and, together with fellow left-hander James Paxton and right-hander Taijuan Walker, formed part of Seattle’s ‘Big Three’ pitching prospects. After his first full year in the Mariners’ system, it looked like Hultzen was on the cusp of a fruitful career in Major League Baseball: he produced a cumulative 3.05 ERA, 5.4 BB/9, and 9.9 SO/9 across 124 innings for Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in 2012 and had been named to the All-Star Futures Game as well.

Instead of making his anticipated MLB debut in 2013, however, the young left-hander suffered a hip injury during spring training. That initial setback was followed by a string of increasingly devastating health issues and procedures: a rotator cuff strain, labrum and rotator cuff surgery, another rotator cuff strain, another shoulder surgery. From 2014 through 2018, he logged just 10 minor league innings between injuries and still has yet to pitch a full season at any professional level since 2012.

After his career petered out with the Mariners in 2017, Hultzen latched onto another minor league gig with the Cubs in March 2018. It’s unclear how effective he’ll be once he breaks into the majors this fall, but just getting back to the mound represents a definite triumph for all involved. He’s been solid in 14 1/3 innings pitched at Triple-A Iowa this year, crafting a 1.26 ERA, 5.7 BB/9, and 14.4 SO/9 in 14 relief appearances so far.

Indians to activate José Ramírez tomorrow

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Indians slugger José Ramírez broke the hamate bone on his right hand last month and had surgery on August 26 to repair it. At the time he was given the same schedule most hamate bone surgery recipients get: 5-7 weeks if all goes well. Apparently all has gone better-than-well for Ramírez, however, because the Indians are going to activate him tomorrow.

That’s good news for the Indians, who are in a dead heat with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL’s second Wild Card with six games to go.

Ramírez, like his team, started the season slowly, but he had turned things on in July and August to help fuel Cleveland’s surge into playoff contention. He hit .320/.340/.680 with nine homers and 25 driven in in July and was hitting .321/.372/.705 with six homers and 20 driven in August when he went down. Basically, he had been a better version of the Ramírez who won the Silver Slugger Award and came in third in the MVP balloting in 2018, at least for those two months.

It’ll be interesting to see how rusty he is or if the surgery has sapped his power or bat speed. We’ll only have six games in which to see it, though.