A revamped approach at the plate has silently turned Yan Gomes’ season around.
Entering play, the Brazilian backstop was slashing .385/.500/.538 (5-for-13) with one run, two doubles, three RBIs and three walks in the month of May.
The offensive surge continued on Tuesday as Gomes went 2-for-3 with a critical three-run home run, walk and a noticeable difference in his plate discipline that dates back to April 27 when he reached base three times on two free passes and a double at home vs. Houston.
Gomes displayed his typical aggressive nature in his second at-bat by finding the first pitch to his liking and lacing it to left field for a base hit off Mike Bolsinger...
Result: One-out single through the left side
Distance: 44 feet
Pitch Velocity: 78-mph (hanging curveball)
Exit Velocity: 101.2-mph
Launch Angle: 0-degrees
Hit Probability: 47%
Gomes has an incredibly low 4.6% walk rate to pair with a rather unappealing 24.1% strikeout rate over the course of his four-year tenure in the big leagues. In this case, the right-handed bat is able to make hard contact on a location mistake from a hurler making his first MLB start in 2017.
Time to look at the new Gomes in this five-pitch walk in the seventh, a key baserunner that would eventually come around to score and elevate the Indians' lead to 3-0.
Result: Five-pitch walk with two fastballs and one cutter just off the black
Dominic Leone took note of Gomes' ability to rip the hanging curveball by picking at the corners of the plate with his fastball (pitches 1-4) and cutter (pitch 5). While three of the five offerings could have gone either way, Gomes showed a level of patience that Tribe fans have not seen before.
In terms of drawing walks and putting the ball in play, Gomes is destroying his past trends with a career-high 11.4% walk rate and career-low 16.5% strikeout rate this year, both totals well below his aforementioned averages calculated since the genesis of his professional career in 2012 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
This at-bat is just one of many examples as to why Gomes is being more selective at the plate in his pursuit of finding the best possible pitch to hit, which just so happened to appear in his very next at-bat...
Result: Three-run homer to left field
Distance: 372 feet
Pitch Velocity: 90.5-mph (fastball)
Exit Velocity: 100.6-mph (barreled ball)
Launch Angle: 32 degrees
Hit Probability: 59%
Gomes takes advantage of a pitch that falls right in the middle of his wheelhouse to transform a tightly contested ballgame into a convincing victory...
If opposing pitchers do their homework, they will likely stay out of the lower-half of the strike zone, a region where Gomes feasts on pitches and drives them out of the ballpark.
Don't believe the analytics?
Just look at his other home run this year on April 13 vs. the White Sox that confirms his uncanny ability to dig the ball out of (nearly) the dirt and club it deep over the outfield wall...
Result: Solo home run over the left field wall at Progressive Field on a 1-2 pitch
Distance: 383 feet
Pitch Velocity: 82.5-mph (slider)
Exit Velocity: 98.9-mph
Launch Angle: 27 degrees
Hit Probability: 57%
Between Gomes' unique pair of home runs and his drastically improved approach at the plate this campaign, there is reason to be encouraged with what he can bring to a World Series caliber roster.
As long as he evades the injury bug that has bit him in each of the last two seasons, he should retain his everyday role behind the dish, a position where he also thrives defensively.