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Today’s Light at the End of the Tunnel: Jeanmar Gomez

2010/08/13

OK, the kid deserves it. In just his fourth major-league start, Jeanmar Gomez shut down the suddenly potent Orioles, who have won 8 of 10 since Buck Showalter took over as manager.

The 22-year-old Gomez, named the Indians’ 23rd-best prospect by minorleagueball.com before the season, ran his record to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.54.

Gomez, who threw a perfect game for Akron last season, won the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year for his 2009 performance, going 10-4 with a 3.43 ERA for the Aeros.

All of these things earn him today’s Light at the End of the Tunnel. Unfortunately, when Indians fans see a light at the end of a tunnel, we have learned to suspect a train.

And the train is coming for Jeanmar Gomez.

He works with a three-pitch repertoire, featuring a 91-mph fastball, an 83-mph changeup and an 84-mph sinker that Manny Acta credited for last night’s success. But Acta added the caveat that “he still hasn’t shown three solid pitches, or command of them, in any of [his four starts].”

Gomez will need that command if he hopes to continue getting hitters out. He has been extraordinarily lucky thus far when facing left-handed hitters, who have batted just .191/.235/.255 against him. His minor league splits portend a reversal of fortune for Gomez.

Furthermore, hitters have made contact with 93.4 percent of pitches that Gomez throws in the strike zone, leaving him vulnerable to the defensive play behind him. The list of major league pitchers with similar numbers is not encouraging: Chris Volstad, Doug Fister, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Saunders, to name a few.

As players and advance scouts get a better look at him, you can expect that a few more of Gomez’ pitches will fall for hits or fly over the fence.  Unless, that is, he is able to hone his command, throw more strikes and miss more bats.

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