Aloha from The Six: Is Yan Gomes back?

For the first time this season and in recent memory, Michael Hattery and the Indians guys have given me the reigns to write the Indians recap. Considering my topic for my first gamer of the year, hopefully they don’t regret it. If so, well, too bad because I’m in charge this time around. But while I’m here, I may as well give a hot take or two.

Guess who’s back, back again. Yanny’s back, tell a friend.

Over the last week, the Cleveland Indians haven’t been able to find a way to get runs across the plate. Having not reached the four-run plateau since April 30 (seven games), the offense somewhat woke up Tuesday night, leading the Indians to a 6-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series to close out a nine-game road trip.

Edwin Encarnacion may be enjoying his reunion, back in Toronto for the first time since leaving the Blue Jays and signing with Cleveland this summer, but while it’s his homecoming, Indians catcher Yan Gomes stole the show Tuesday night. While many may forget that the Indians acquired the catcher from Toronto, Gomes may even be having a better homecoming than Encarnacion—at least so far.

Although the Indians needed just one run to beat the Blue Jays after Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller, and Nick Goody combined for a four-hit shutout, Gomes capped off the win with a glorious, three-run home run in the top of the eighth to put the game away for good.

Since signing a six-year deal to stay in Cleveland prior to the 2014 season, Gomes has steadily declined every season, seeing his slash lines drop from .294/.345/.481 in his Silver Slugger season of 2013 to a dismal .167/.201/.327 in 2016. While injuries have played a major part in the collapse, the 29-year-old seemed to have little-to-no confidence at the plate. Then May started. Although just  10 days in, May has a chance to be one of Gomes’ best months since 2013.

To start 2016, the catcher had just one hit in his first 12 at-bats and two in his first 30 at-bats. Since that slump, he has had at least one hit in 10 of his last 12 games. While he’s been great behind the plate, framing pitches and keeping would-be base stealers guessing, Gomes seems to have finally found his bat, serving as one of the team’s best hitters through this recent stretch.

After having just a .176/.276/.275 split in 51 at-bats in April with one home run and two RBIs, he has been unbelievable so far this month. With his three-run home run Tuesday night, the catcher has a .438/.550/.75o split with one home run and three RBIs in 16 at-bats in May. I know, it’s a small sample size, but the progress that he has made already in five games this month is astronomical to where he has been in the past two years. Not only has he finally gained some confidence at the plate, but Gomes has been a much-needed big bat in the bottom of the lineup.

We know about his defense and his ability to throw out opposing baserunners, but Gomes seems to have found his stroke at the plate as well. While whatever both he and Perez bring to the plate in terms of hitting is just a bonus on what is already a deep, loaded batting order, if he can somehow continue to hit like this, it’s going to make the Indians that much better.

Perez is arguably the best defensive catcher in the league, but while he’s struggling at the plate so far this season, Gomes could potentially start stealing some at-bats if he continues to hit like he has. The entire league has already been put on notice to not run on Yan, can he make it so that they shouldn’t pitch to him either? Alright, I’m blowing that way out of proportion, but it’s always good to have a little fun sometimes. Then again, the thought of adding the 2013 version of Gomes to this lineup is certainly fun to think about.

  • JM85

    Good stuff Josh. This lineup could be real fun if Gomes keeps this up.

  • mgbode

    Gomes even being an average MLB bat is a bit of a game-changer considering Brantley looked to have his bat back (though a bit different). Now, if Kipnis can get himself past his initial cold set and the rest of the offense can remember what to do at the plate…

  • Chris

    His recent improvements on both walks and strikeouts are extremely encouraging.

  • JM85

    I keep saying it’s early. Either that or panic!

  • mgbode

    April – Indians among best offenses in MLB!!!!
    Week & Half of May – Indians worst offense in MLB!!!!

    Yeah, sample sizes early are the horrible. I attempt to follow a policy of “Track not React” but I’m sure I violate it at times.

  • Natedawg86

    Lucroy hitting .214 with and OPS+ of 62 so far this season in a contract year…

  • jpftribe

    I’ve transferred my downer from Gomes to Kip, so maybe that’ll work.

  • tsm

    Agree on Gomes and Brantley. Now let’s get Kipnis and Encarnacion going and our offense will be more than enough to win it.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hmmm … i wouldn’t even have Perez in the top-10 as far as defensive catchers. but i’m sure my pal MG will set me straight.

  • mgbode

    Much has to do with his elite framing skills.

    Roberto Perez
    Ranked No. 4 by StatCorner in 2017 (2nd in per game)
    Ranked No. 9 by StatCorner in 2016 (8th in per game)

  • jpftribe
  • tigersbrowns2

    framing ?? … you’ll have to do better than that. i would consider stolen base prevention , regular fielding , blocking , game management & other factors much more important than framing.

    he didn’t even come close to any any top-10 defensive catcher rankings in all the rankings i perused. i haven’t seen him play enough to know & i’m sure he’s a fine catcher if you gentleman say so.

  • mgbode

    I disagree quite wholeheartedly. The ability to get balls called strikes has proven to be quite useful.

    Perez’s 43% career CS% would have him Top 10 in MLB and his 50% last year would have been tops (he didn’t qualify for enough innings)

    If you have any questions about his game management, then I would direct you to the Indians 2016 postseason. All of the starters had quotes about Perez’s game calling being a huge part of the reason the Tribe advanced.

  • tigersbrowns2

    ” i disagree quite wholeheartedly ” … i knew you would. but , if i asked you to pick a starting catcher for your team , right now … and you could take any catcher in baseball , Perez wouldn’t even be in your top 10 , or even top 15 … am i right ??

  • mgbode

    I would if it was just for defense, which is where this started

  • tigersbrowns2

    good enough …

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  • Jaker

    Love it. I know it’s small, but when anyone has struggled the way Yan has the last few seasons, a stretch like this is just such a great relief, knowing he’s still capable of being a major league bat. We don’t even need 2013 Yan. If we can get .250/.320/.800 from him, that would be amazing for our 8th or 9th batter. Now if we can just get CF figured out and some stability in our rotation, we’d be back to where we ended 2016 and then some. We are very fortunate to be in this year’s AL Central