Second Thoughts Game #115: Indians 0, Reds 4
Cincy hoists Ohio Cup as quiet bats lead to Tribe's third straight loss
One would think we would know how this song and dance goes by now with the Indians here in 2014. Almost like clockwork, as soon as this team looks to be getting their act together to go on a hot streak, they fall right back to square one and need to build themselves up all over again.
Inconsistency. That is this season summarized into one word. While guys like Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber and Yan Gomes have been a tremendous emergence of elite talent, they can only do so much. The underachievment of key players such as Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson before he got traded have just weighed down this ballclub too much.
T.J. House started out a bit shaky, but ended up putting up a solid effort going six-plus innings allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits while walking one and striking out five. He and the rest of the Tribe pitching staff didn't get much help from their defense on Thursday (another broken record of this season) as the Indians committed three errors on the night.
Give House Time
I will admit I didn't think much of T.J. House as a major league starting pitching option when the season started, but I knew our leader here at IBI, Tony Lastoria, was high on him since spring training as a potential dark horse candidate for the rotation. Now I truly believe the Indians could have a solid lefty to anchor the back of their rotation.
My doubts could have been simply based in the fact that I hadn't seen House pitch other than one or two times at the AA level two years ago. While I've brought this up before, the southpaw caught my attention in his second big league start against the White Sox. Since he doesn't have overpowering stuff, he has been pretty much forced to learn how to be an actual "pitcher" rather than guys who come up just throwing and developing some pitching skills as they go.
To me, what separates House from the fringe pitching prospects that might just manage to have a cup of coffee or two in the majors is his changeup. Of the 85 pitches House threw on Thursday, 14 were changeups and of those 14, nine were strikes and four were swung on and missed. Not the best ratio for the left-hander, but he has proven it can be effective at this level, especially with two strikes.
House also has a decent slider that he has stymied a number of batters with during his rookie campaign. As long as he has command and is able to get to two strikes on a hitter so he can use that changeup and slider, he could enjoy a lot of success in this league. The left-hander has also shown the ability to mix his location and keep hitters off-balance, as he did exceptionally well against Chicago.
Possessing those pitching-specific skills puts House somewhat ahead of the curve as far as what we typically see with these young power arms nowadays.
Yan on a Roll
The American League may be weak in the catching department this season, but that doesn't change the fact that Yan Gomes in less than two seasons has emerged as one of the premier all-around catchers in the league, if not all of baseball. Around the All-Star break, I would've said Gomes was second only to Salvador Perez as the top catcher in the AL, but now I think the Brazilian native could even give the Royals backstop a run for his money.
After a rough start to the season, particularly on defense, Gomes has really taken the bull by the horns as far as the starting catching duties. Right now, Chris Antonetti is looking like a genius not only for finding and bringing in Gomes, but also signing him to an extension this offseason. The power Gomes showed coming off the bench was no fluke as he is en route to a 20+ home run campaign and he is still hitting for a decent average at .285 following Thursday's contest.
The Tribe catcher extended his hit streak to 13 games on Thursday with a leadoff single in the seventh as he is batting nearly .350 during that span. He also threw out speedster Billy Hamilton as he tried to steal second in the fifth, which is an accomplishment even with as strong an arm as Gomes has.
While Gomes probably is not going to end up being the big middle-of-the-order, right-handed power bat the Indians are desperately searching for, his modest power and approach from the right side does give the lefty-laden Tribe lineup a bit of balance. Plus, for the forseeable future, the pitching staff will be in good hands.
Up Next: Indians (57-58) vs. Yankees (60-54) @ Yankee Stadium. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.
While Chris Antonetti and the Indians clearly won the trade that brought in now-star catcher Yan Gomes and veteran super-sub utility man Mike Aviles, they now have a chance to put an exclamation point on the deal against the pitcher they shipped off to Toronto two offseasons ago in Esmil Rogers, who is now with the Yankees and was penciled in late as the scheduled starter on Friday. Young right-hander Trevor Bauer will take the hill for the Tribe in a key wild card battle in the Bronx.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.