The San Francisco Giants are hoping they found something special in lefty reliever Yapson Gomez, but even if he doesn’t make the team, the pitcher went viral yesterday because of his strange pitching motion.
The Giants are entering the 2020 season with lowered expectations, coming off a 77-win season and offseason where a franchise face in Madison Bumgarner left San Francisco for Arizona, it’s been hard to find things to get excited about with the Giants.
So when funky lefty reliever Yapson Gomez entered Tuesday’s spring training game against the Rangers and showed off his interesting pitching mechanics, the 26-year-old went viral.
Gomez had started in the Cubs farm system in 2013, moving to the Indians system last year, and now getting a shot with the Giants. And yes, he’s always pitched with a similar quirky wind-up, Sporting News did a deep-dive on Gomez mechanics.
The lefty reliever has posted solid numbers over seven minor league seasons, a 2.54 ERA and 7.5 K/9, but has only eight innings of work beyond high-A. With a team like the Giants, Gomez may get a shot to work his way onto the big league club and has shown some improving strikeout numbers.
Last season Gomez recorded a career-high 72 strikeouts, giving him an impressive 9.1 K/9 between high-A and double-A. He flashed some of that swing and miss potential in his inning of work Tuesday, striking out two Rangers in the 5th inning.
I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t know who Yapson Gomez was before this spring, but this guy is apparently kind of a legend in certain minor league baseball circles.
Typically, spring training is for fine-tuning and trying out new deliveries, pitches, etc. but it seems like Gomez is just looking to stay consistent with his delivery. The wind-up, which involves almost digging into the mound like he’s stepping into the batter’s box, is repeatable and obviously draws attention.
If Gomez can continue to build on his strikeouts there’s a lot to like about the 26-year-old’s game. He’s never allowed more than three home runs in a season, he’s been around a 50 percent groundball rate throughout his entire career, he doesn’t issue many walks, and his “stuff” has continued to improve since leaving the Cubs system – which isn’t surprising.
The funky lefty and his attention-grabbing wind-up are fun, but it’s unlikely he’ll break camp on the Giants 26-man roster. But at least for the moment, we can appreciate the awkwardness that is his pre-pitch ritual for a few more weeks.