GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Indians lefty reliever Anthony Gose is on the mound and hitting 100 mph in Cactus League games, it’s hard not to wonder what his career could’ve looked like if he would’ve started out as a pitcher. But maybe this was the path he needed to preserve an arm that has a chance to be pretty dangerous at the Major League level.
“You know, things work out for a reason,” Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to the Tribe’s 7-0 loss to the White Sox on Saturday at Goodyear Ballpark. “You just don’t know. He’s just an easy guy to root for.”
Gose appeared in 372 Major League games as an outfielder with the Blue Jays and Tigers from 2012-16 before deciding to convert to a pitcher in '17. He split '19 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.
“It's been a really interesting and cool story,” Francona said. “And to hear from him how powerful it was for him last spring to even be on a mound in a Major League game. And to see him a year later looking much more like a pitcher. It's a pretty cool story. He's obviously a kid we're rooting for. His stuff is off the charts.”
When Gose arrived at Spring Training in 2020, he was on a quest to show improvements with his command, but the left-hander needed more reps. While the cancellation of the Minor League season due to COVID-19 affected every up-and-coming prospect, a 30-year-old making this type of transition may have been hit the hardest.
“I think when we talked about guys needing reps, [Gose] was right at the top of that list,” Francona said. “And I think we felt bad for him because his work had been so stellar and then the way the season was, it made it awfully difficult. He even went to winter ball, but he got sick, so he had to come home. But he has seemed to find a way to continue to mature as a pitcher, even without some of those game reps. It’s getting fun to watch.”
After dealing with an illness over the offseason and having to miss a few days this spring due to a fender bender on the highway, Gose has gotten off to a solid start in 2021. He’s made two appearances in Cactus League play and allowed just two hits in two frames with three strikeouts.
“He's throwing probably 96 to 99 or 100 [mph] with his fastball,” Francona said. “He had the curveball last year that was kind of in and out. Now he's added a slider that seems to come out of the same window as that fastball, where he's able to speed up their bats with the velocity, and then throw the slider off that.”
Gose is certainly a tempting option for a bullpen with limited left-handed arms to choose from, but will he be a realistic candidate? Gose will need to showcase tremendous improvement with his command over the next few weeks and will likely need some more time in the Minors. But Gose could be an arm the Indians try out at some point during the 2021 season.
Update from the "B" game
Before the Indians hosted the White Sox on Saturday, half of the Tribe’s squad went just down the road to the Reds’ Spring Training complex to play a three-inning "B" game. The team decided to have Shane Bieber start the exhibition matchup so it could get a better look at some of its younger arms in a Cactus League game.
Bieber approached his outing as he would have for any regular-season start and tossed three solid frames. He made one mistake that resulted in a solo homer but scattered just three hits on the day with five strikeouts and no walks.
“Part of the reason we felt like we could do that where we’d let some of these other guys [pitch] that need to compete is because of the way [Bieber] handles himself,” Francona said. “He looked like he was pitching at 7 o’clock at Progressive. And that makes you proud of the guy.”