Gose clutch in highest-leverage outing of career

42 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES — Every time Guardians manager Terry Francona had the chance to watch Anthony Gose, an outfielder-turned reliever, throw his triple-digit heater in exhibition games or bullpens for the first time during Spring Training in 2020, he’d say it was easy to dream about what Gose could become. And in those fantasies, Gose probably looked like the hurler he was on Friday night against the Dodgers.

Gose was dealt an unbelievably difficult hand. Oscar Gonzalez dropped a routine fly ball in right field, allowing runners to sit on the corners with just one out in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, as the bullpen doors flung open for Gose to trot in. The hard-throwing lefty showed no signs of being rattled, striking out Gavin Lux and forcing Trea Turner to fly out to right to escape the jam, allowing the Guardians to walk away with a 2-1, extra-inning victory at Dodger Stadium.

“When I saw [Gose] come out of the bullpen, I knew that we were going to get out of that one,” Guardians catcher Luke Maile said. “That’s the type of guy he is.”

Two years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Gose being called upon in that situation. He was raw, as he was in the early stages of his transition from position player to pitcher. He struggled to command his heater, and his slider showed a lot of potential, but wasn’t quite ready to be a weapon just yet. But the idea of boasting a 100 mph-throwing southpaw is something that would make any big league team salivate. So, Cleveland never gave up hope.

The timing of his first callup wasn’t easy. Because he already had five years of Major League experience as an outfielder, Gose had exhausted all of his options, meaning if Cleveland was going to add him to the big league roster, he was going to have to be there for the long haul. If he was sent down, he’d be at risk of being claimed off waivers because the team would have to designate him for assignment. So, the Guardians had to be patient and wait until the end of the 2021 season to give him his first shot as a hurler in the big leagues.

He only pitched in six games that year, but Gose gave everyone a preview of what he could become, allowing one earned run in 6 2/3 frames with just two walks and nine strikeouts — plenty of reason to keep him on the 40-man roster over the offseason.

Fast forward to the middle of June and Gose has had a relatively solid season with just a couple rough outings that have skewed his numbers. But as arms like Eli Morgan, Sam Hentges and Trevor Stephan have surprised many this season, allowing Cleveland to own one of the lowest bullpen ERAs in the Majors (third best, entering Friday), Gose’s role hasn’t been quite as predominant as expected this season. That was, until Friday night.

“Unparalleled,” Maile said, when asked how best to describe Gose’s journey. “You can’t say enough about what he’s gone through and his career path. All of a sudden he comes in — in probably the biggest situation that any pitcher could have, minus the postseason — and the guy just started pitching a few years ago.”

Closer Emmanuel Clase was down after working the last three games. Morgan and Bryan Shaw were in the same boat. Hentges was called on for the seventh, Stephan worked 1 1/3 frames until Gonzalez’s miscue in the bottom of the ninth and Gose was the next man up to work out of the jam.

“That was one of the funner games,” Francona said. “We went to guys in situations where we haven’t [before]. Hentges, Trevor Stephan, Anthony. And we put Anthony in a tough spot. That was really something. Really excited for those guys.”

A six-pitch at-bat against Lux ended in a strikeout on an 87.1 mph slider before the third pitch against Turner was served high into shallow right field, allowing Gonzalez to redeem himself for the error earlier in the inning. And after Gose toed the rubber for two more outs, Enyel De Los Santos followed suit, shutting the door in the 10th after Richie Palacios gave Cleveland the lead with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

The Guardians have won 14 of their last 17 contests. But even more importantly, the team started a difficult stretch in their schedule with a win.

“We got a young team, as you guys already know,” Maile said. “Them doing it in this environment is something that they’ll be able to draw off of probably for the rest of their careers. I think it’s that big of a deal, especially with this lineup. So, it was a pretty cool night.”