Anthony Gose made his country proud, so why not see if he can do the same for Cleveland?
Gose is on the temporary inactive list for Columbus right now, last appearing in a Triple-A game on July 10. He’s not on COVID leave or injured, however, and actually has a pretty good reason for being gone: he was winning a silver medal at the Olympics for Team USA.
As the medal might attest, Gose was pretty good in Japan. He pitched 5.1 innings over four appearances, allowing no runs and just one hit while striking out three and walking one. His efforts for the States earned him the honor of being named best left-handed pitcher on the All-Olympic Baseball Team.
Gose’s fastball topped out at 98 mph at the Olympics, but in the 2020 prospect report at FanGraphs, Erik Longenhagen noted him getting up to 100 mph. Gose’s had a long career already, but not as a power pitcher, instead bouncing around the league from 2012 to 2016 as an outfielder. Just slightly above replacement level, Gose never hit enough to offset his rising strikeout rate (up to 37% in 2016) and went back to the minors to pitch. He’s had his share of growing pains in the minors but has shown promise.
Prior to heading to Tokyo, Gose struggled with walks and long balls in Columbus, with a 10.42 BB% and 1.42 HR/9. Those are not the numbers that would suggest he’s ready to contribute in Cleveland, but his time at the Olympics might suggest otherwise.
Before I go forward I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room: 5.1 innings in the Olympics is a microscopic sample size. It’s about as statistically relevant as not pitching at all. However, pitching at the Olympics was not just about game action. As you might have surmised by the media coverage (or lack thereof) for Olympic baseball, it was not exactly a priority for the United States. I mean, Anthony Gose was on the team and that says a lot. But what the team lacked in star power, it made up for in experience.
Gose was coached by guys like Mike Scioscia, whose background as a catcher has always helped him maximize his pitching staff, and Dave Wallace, who helped develop Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez as a pitching coach. And joining Gose in the pitching staff were guys like Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson, who are surely bound for coaching roles soon. No one can say based on the stats that Gose is a better player because of his time with Team USA, but the baseball lifers that he shared the space with certainly had a positive impression on him.
And regarding those stats, even though it’s a tiny sample it did not come against a sandlot team. The gold medal-winning Japan team, for instance, was made up of some of the brightest stars in the host country, including 2020 Japanese rookie of the year Masato Morishita and 21-year-old Munetaka Murakami, a four-year Yakult Swallows veteran that hit 26 home runs in 83 games this season prior to the Olympics.
Gose did well against Olympic competition, maintained his incredible velocity, and pairs it with a plus curveball. Considering the state of the Cleveland bullpen, perhaps Gose deserves a shot.
Since July 1, nine Guardians relievers have thrown at least 10 innings. Of those, compared to league average, four have allowed greater wOBA, three have greater walk rate, five have worse strikeout rates, four have worse FIP, and three have worse LOB%. No one individual has been at the bottom of each statistical category, but many of the same guys have struggled over the same span: Justin Garza, James Karinchak, Blake Parker, Trevor Stephan. With the exception of Parker, each player has options available (and cutting Parker is also an option) and there’s not a lot of reason to keep riding with these struggling relievers rather than using the Columbus-Cleveland shuttle. After Nick Sandlin hit the IL after Wednesday’s game and was shut down for two to four weeks and lefty Francisco Pérez being sent back to Triple-A after one outing (in which he was asked to come in with no outs and the bases loaded — DeMarlo Hale did him dirty), there’s certainly room for new relievers.
I’m not entirely sure when Anthony Gose is available to return to play stateside, though I’d guess he’d have to quarantine for at least a week (longer if he’s not vaccinated) after returning. The last US game in Tokyo was played on Aug. 7, which I would think means players would be cleared to return within the next week.
At that point, why not call Gose up and see what he’s got? In the aforementioned FanGraphs piece, Longenhagen said Gose “could have a huge impact on Cleveland’s bullpen.” Just give him a shot.