Even before Corey Kluber‘s masterful Sunday afternoon start, there was something to his relationship with Yan Gomes in the 2013 season. In fact, most of Cleveland’s starters are thriving with the slugging, strong-armed Brazilian behind the dish:
The sample size on Gomes remains small, just 29 games and only 28 of those at catcher, but he is leading the American League with his 53 percent caught stealing percentage (8 of 15 caught), and his offensive production has been much more than the Indians could have expected. However, outside of his arm, has Gomes really been much better behind the plate?
Here a comparison between the numbers the five starters (listed above) have posted with Gomes and Santana behind the plate:
Based on what you see above, Santana hasn’t really been any worse behind the plate than Gomes, as far as pitcher production is concerned, but it is pretty clear which starters should be working with Santana and which starters should be working with Gomes: Kluber and McAllister should be with Gomes and Masterson and Jimenez should be with Santana…while it appears that Scott Kazmir shouldn’t be working with anyone, in a starting role, at least.
With strengths and weaknesses present in his defensive game, what should we all think of Yan Gomes with the bat? Prior to Sunday, this was his line:
Gomes is not walking, that is obvious, but his ability to productively drive the ball is also apparent with 12 extra-base hits in 101 plate appearances (going into Sunday). While his most productive season in the minors was the 2012 season in Las Vegas, which appears to be the size of a Williamsport field, even a small sample size, as in his production in Cleveland, is enticing for Tribe fans. The issue with Gomes is that he may continue to thrive in a part-time role, but overuse of Gomes could lead to pitchers adjusting to Gomes’ inability to walk.
The issue with thinking that Gomes is going to eventually fail is that his ability to use the bat is real, as evidenced by his 86.2 percent contact rate on all pitches and 92.7 percent contact rate on pitches inside the strike zone. He isn’t going to fail.
If Terry Francona and company notice the success that Santana and Gomes have had with the pitchers in the rotation, it will allow the club to, potentially, find success within their current group of starting pitchers. More so, however, is that Gomes will make Lou Marson an afterthought, once again, as the Indians move on with one of the more potent catching tandems in all of baseball.