Gomez Striving For Fifth Starter Spot
Each week through Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and break down the players in camp for the Indians at Goodyear, Arizona and examine their potential roles for the season to come. This week, we continue our Goodyear coverage by breaking down the players who are battling for a chance to make the Opening Day roster.
By Kevin Schneider
Jeanmar Gomez aims to show consistency and separate himself this spring training from the group vying for the open fifth rotation spot.
Gomez, 24, has started strong this spring by striking out 4 in 4 scoreless innings through Thursday’s games. He’ll need to continue this success to stay in competition with veteran Kevin Slowey and Gomez’s fellow Columbus-to-Cleveland regulars David Huff and Zach McAllister.
Otherwise, Gomez’s back-and-forth trips between AAA Columbus and Cleveland will continue, at least while he still has minor-league options and consistent starters manning the Indians rotation.
The right-handed Gomez burst into Indians fans’ radar when he hurled a perfect game for Akron in a 3-0 win at Trenton, NJ, in May 21, 2009. That not only caught Cleveland’s attention but also all of the baseball world’s. It marked the first perfect game in the minors since 2007.
Then listed at 6-3 and less than 170 pounds, Gomez now has bulked up to 200 pounds, according to the Indians 40-man roster. If he doesn’t make the team, Gomez will be counted on to provide insurance for the starting rotation.
With young starters including Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin being expected to pitch more MLB innings than ever in a season, Gomez likely will need to fill in for injuries or spell starters who start to pile up innings if the Indians don’t award him the fifth-starter spot this spring.
Signed by the Indians as free agent in 2005, Gomez, like in that AA perfect game, has shown flashes of ace potential. For instance, in his Tribe debut against the rival Tigers on July 18, 2010, he yielded no earned runs in 7 innings and earned the win. But he has yet to earn a permanent place in the rotation with a long string of successful starts.
Soon, though, the Indians hope he shows consistency from start to start. In 58.1 innings last season, Gomez struck out 31 and compiled a 4.47 ERA with the Tribe. In 2010, he pitched 57.2 innings and struck out 34 and put up a 4.68 ERA.
With strong competition for that last Indians rotation spot this spring, Gomez should need to improve on his spring-training performance from last year to win the job. Then, he put up a 5.50 ERA in 18 innings of work.
Photo: Associated Press