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.