Kluber exits early as Tribe falls to the Tigers yet again

For the Cleveland Indians, Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers was a collection of bad outcomes which had both adverse short- and long-terms effects. Justin Verlander was finally able to find some success against an Indians team which has given him fits throughout his career, but the larger story line was the struggles and early exit of Indians ace Corey Kluber.

Deactivate the Klubot?

Kluber gave up five earned runs over three innings but the most dangerous part if you are an Indians fan was his exit due to back tightness. According to Kluber and the Indians medical staff, Kluber has been struggling with back tightness throughout the early season and has been altering his preparation in order to best protect his health for each start.

Yet, with back pain causing a quick exit and the new luxury of the 10-day disabled list, it would likely be best to sideline Kluber for two starts allowing him to strengthen his back and core. Even better for the Indians, Mike Clevinger pitched for Columbus last night therefore the timing of the transition would be a seamless one to get Kluber and his ailing back rest.

Is Yan Gomes Rebounding?

Gomes had a two-hit night on Tuesday including a double and his batting average once again settled at the Mendoza line. Gomes defense has been incredible in 2017 as his already special arm has been a nearly constant gun show when opposing runners dare test him. Gomes is currently rocking a wRC+ of 70 (weighted runs created where 100 is average and 70 is 30 percent below league average). While this sounds less than exciting last year Gomes ran a wRC+ of 33, which means the catcher has provided more than he did during last year’s offensive nightmare. When Gomes sits near 80-90 wRC+ the Indians have a league average starter at catcher who provides significant value, the question is whether he can continue to make progress.

Time for a few oddities which suggest a profile shift for Gomes. First, Gomes is running the lowest ISO of his big league career reflecting a power decline. However, the catcher is running his best big league walk rate and lowest big league strikeout rate. These are fantastic gains.

These plate discipline gains are built through a career low o-swing% (or chase rate), and improved contact on pitches outside the strike zone. Gomes has better plate coverage and better discipline than any other point in his career. This has come at a cost, however.

Increased plate coverage has impacted his batted ball profile so far with Gomes hitting a career high number of ground balls while seeing decreases in fly balls and line drives, which is a huge cost in terms of contact quality for Gomes as it caps a player’s power output and batting average expectations when one is as slow-footed as Gomes.

Gomes has made some fantastic adjustments that have raised his offensive floor. Improved plate discipline and plate coverage are a step in the right direction but Gomes must now find a way to incorporate more contact authority if he wants to see a return of his power production from years past. For the Indians, Gomes offensive approach is an important evolution to follow in 2017.

  • jpftribe

    Am I the only one who sees the irony of “Gomes is getting better” buried beneath “Kluber to the DL”? Maybe irony is a bad word. It’s like tragic serendipity.

  • mgbode

    Warning bells go off when increased walk rate & decreased strikeout rate see a significant gain in wRC+. I believe these are weighted a bit too heavily there. OPS+ has less weight on them and shows Gomes at 62, which is still a good gain from last year’s 33 (where they both were the same).

  • tigersbrowns2
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  • Steve

    Genuinely asking, what’s the basis for believing that walk and strikeout rates are weighted too heavily? What sets wRC+ apart from OPS+ is that people took the time to figure out the weightings before making the stat.

    Though wRC+ has a small issue for us in regards to park factors, as Fangraphs uses a longer stretch – five years – to determine them than B-Ref – three years – which is thrown off by our recent park changes.

  • mgbode

    I’d have to re-dig through the details, which is fair to ask but I don’t have the time presently. I do remember there was a more significant attribution to BB, K in wRC+ than OPS+.

  • mgbode
  • tigersbrowns2

    LMAO !! … enjoy the game.

  • Steve

    Well sure, but isn’t that supposed to be the feature not the bug? OPS+ never bothered to figure out how much to attribute to Ks or BBs. wRC+ did. I think an interesting question would be how much does it need to get changed as we progress more and more into this TTO world.

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  • mgbode

    The question is which one is closer to the actual value of a walk. I try to use both or go back-n-forth with them to give a more accurate wide view of values.

  • mgbode

    hopefully we get this Thursday one in too, but it is not looking promising.

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