GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Every time Anthony Gose’s name pops up in conversation, Indians manager Terry Francona is sure to include that the 29-year-old outfielder-turned-reliever needs more repetition. But that surely doesn’t mean his stuff hasn’t caught the eye of nearly everyone in camp.
Outside of Brad Hand, Nick Wittgren and Oliver Pérez, there’s plenty of uncertainty regarding the Tribe’s bullpen, which has caused many to wonder whether Gose could suddenly be a contender. While he got off to a hot start this spring through his first four appearances, his outing Saturday afternoon in the Indians’ 8-5 loss to the Cubs could be an example of why more repetition will be so important.
During polling of a dozen players in the Indians’ clubhouse about who has impressed them the most this spring, Gose was one of the top five mentioned. His heater has touched 100 mph, and it has been casually sitting around 96-98 mph in his Cactus League appearances.
“It’s exciting to see the continued progress,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “I mean, obviously, the stuff is electric, and he’s now become more consistent in repeating his delivery and his mechanics where he’s been in the zone more consistently. And if he can marry those two, maintain the stuff and be in the zone, it’s a pretty interesting arm to have as an option in the bullpen.”
Gose’s velocity has been stellar, and he had shown improvement in his command early this spring before beginning his outing Saturday by throwing eight straight balls. Entering his most recent appearance, Gose had allowed one run with six strikeouts and no walks in four frames. But in this last trip to the mound, he was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Between Class A Advanced and Double-A last year, Gose permitted 29 walks in 29 innings.
“He’s throwing 98, 99 I think,” catcher Roberto Pérez said. “Anybody that is here can help us out -- these young guys, older guys, guys that are making a transition from outfield to pitching. But he’s a case that is very special. He has impressed me the most so far this spring.”
But how practical of an option for Opening Day is Gose? He appeared in 372 Major League games as an outfielder with Toronto and Detroit from 2012-16 and decided to convert to a pitcher in 2017. He split last season between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Akron in his first year in the Indians’ organization with a combined 2.48 ERA in 32 appearances.
At this point, it’s realistic to think that Hand, Wittgren, Pérez, Adam Cimber and James Karinchak will break camp with the Indians. Francona said that Hunter Wood was sick during the first week of camp and lost a lot of weight. Wood has been trying to rediscover his velocity ever since, which is why he has struggled in his Cactus League appearances. If he’s not ready by the start of the year, the Indians then have three bullpen spots open.
The top contenders are Wood, Phil Maton, James Hoyt and Cam Hill. Because of his impressive spring, Gose has thrown his name in the conversation. Despite that attention he has received, it’s most probable that he’ll start the year in the Minors. After getting a little more experience, Gose could become an option for the Tribe to call up at some point this season.
“I told him when he came out of the game, ‘There’s going to be a lot of good days,’” Francona said after the loss. “For us to not expect this to happen sometimes is not fair to him, and he understands that. I mean, that’s a special arm, and he still is, not fairly new, really new. We have to be patient if we’re going to get rewarded, and we know that.”