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Indians' AL Central Hopes Could Be Dashed With Yan Gomes Injury
Injuries are a part of baseball with such a long, grueling season and the biggest one to hit a team thus far -- not counting spring training injuries that cost Mets pitcher Zach Wheeler and Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman their 2015 season -- happened to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday when catcher Yan Gomes, perhaps the best at his position in the American League, was lost for up two months with a sprained MCL in his right knee. It's a significant enough injury that it could cost Cleveland a shot to win the very deep AL Central. The Indians are currently +300 third favorites at Sportsbook.ag behind Detroit (+150) and Kansas City (+250).
In the ninth inning of Saturday's 9-6 loss to the Tigers, Rajai Davis slid through home plate, striking Gomes' right foot and jarring the catcher's knee. With the bases loaded, Detroit's J.D. Martinez chopped a pitch to first baseman Carlos Santana, who gloved the ball and quickly fired it to Gomes at home. The catcher had his right foot positioned in the middle of the plate and was stretched out in a similar manner as a first baseman. Davis had little choice but to slide through the plate. The Indians said an MRI performed at the Cleveland Clinic revealed Gomes suffered a "moderate'' sprain to his MCL.
The loss of Gomes is a tough one since he's the club's top right-handed power hitter and a solid defensive player. Last season, Gomes led all AL catchers in average (.278) and extra-base hits (49). He was second in RBIs (74) and homers (21) and handled one of baseball's youngest starting staffs.
"Losing Gomes, man, that can be a season-killer," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Anytime you lose him for any amount of time it's not good. In the really big picture, it could have been worse."
Roberto Perez and Brett Hayes will man the position until Gomes returns. Perez is lauded for his defensive prowess, but he has never played regularly at the big league level. Throughout his minor league career, Perez was heralded as Cleveland's top defensive catcher. In his 29-game taste of the majors last year, Perez helped the pitchers post a 2.60 ERA with him behind the plate (232 1/3 innings) and the catcher threw out 36 percent (8-for-21) would-be basestealers. Both in the minors and majors, Perez has been rated as an above-average pitch framer as well.
Gomes' bat will be especially missed. He accepted his Silver Slugger award while sporting crutches on the field prior to first pitch on Sunday. Gomes wasn't the only hobbled Tribe hitter to receive the hardware. Michael Brantley, who has missed four of the club's first six games, remains bothered by a back strain. Brantley is batting just .125 and has driven in one run. Francona does not expect Brantley, who finished third in MVP voting last season, to go on the disabled list. He will take batting practice before Tuesday's game with the White Sox to determine whether or not he can play.
Zach McAllister, who won the Indians' fifth-starter job out of Spring Training, will be available out of the bullpen starting Tuesday. Due to off-days on Monday and Thursday, the Indians don't need a full five-man rotation for the time being. Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to pitch Tuesday.
The Indians are -135 favorites Tuesday against White Sox starter Carlos Carrasco.
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