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Cleveland’s Anthony Gose, ex-outfielder converted to reliever, flashes 100 mph in MLB debut

  • September 21, 2021

Cleveland pitcher Anthony Gose worked behind the scenes for roughly five years for 39 pitches.

When Gose walked off the field on May 15, 2016, it would mark the beginning of a quick, downward spiral that led to a demotion to the minors and then, the next spring, the end of his career as an outfielder. At 26 years old, his path to the majors with the bat was closed.

As Gose put it Monday night, he simply wasn’t smart enough to walk away from the game. After not making the Detroit Tigers’ 2017 Opening Day roster, he began an attempt to transition to the mound, a path that took him through three minor league systems — Detroit’s, Texas’ and then Cleveland’s. For the better part of five seasons, Gose worked this way up and down minor league levels and through three organizations, refining some raw traits that were, at least, intriguing from a coach’s standpoint. Gose, a lefty, could throw hard, but he lacked refinement.

Gose’s MLB debut as pitcher

Like a mold of clay, Gose was returned to a solid, blank square in 2017, and three organizations have attempted to build from it a second major leaguer, this one a pitcher, since. After five years of work away from the major leagues that he had known for multiple seasons as an outfielder, Gose reached the next milestone in his baseball journey.

Monday marked his long-awaited return. Gose entered the second game of Monday’s doubleheader, tossing 1 ⅔ innings and allowing one run on one hit with a walk and a strikeout. As he made his way from Cleveland’s bullpen, he passed right by his old spot as a center fielder, instead taking the mound in what he hopes is Act 2 of his major league career. It was a long time in the making.

“I love the game. I love to play. I guess I’m too stupid to quit,” Gose said on a Zoom call Monday night. “That was pretty special for me. It meant a lot to get the opportunity to go out there again. It’s been a while. I’m very excited and happy to be able to have that opportunity.”

Gose hits 100 mph in return

As advertised, Gose did bring the heat Monday night. Of Gose’s 39 total pitches, 31 were fastballs (eight sliders). And of those 31, 21 were thrown at least 99 mph. Eight of those 21 reached triple digits, with Gose topping out at 100.9 mph. A lefty who can hit 100 and throw multiple innings will always, at the very least, be given a chance to figure some other things out, even a pitcher who has been viewed as raw as Gose.

“He’s not afraid to compete,” said acting manager DeMarlo Hale. “When we brought him in, it was a situation we were trying to get multi-innings from him, keep the game close, he did that. But the competitor in him, it really doesn’t matter who’s in the box. He’s aggressive. He’s got the live fastball. I thought, considering this is his first time pitching in the big leagues, I’m very happy with what he did.”

As Gose took the mound, it wasn’t as much about the pressures of a major league situation, or the fact that he finally has a chance to carve out a role. It was about the lengthy, scenic journey he had to take to get there.

“The adrenaline wasn’t a big thing,” Gose said. “It was more of how much it meant to me, how special it was.”

It’s why Gose said that the game balls he has from Monday night will be going to the many coaches who helped him along the way.

“Probably a couple coaches in the organization I’d like to give one to,” Gose said. “They helped me get here. Joel Mangrum, Joe Torres, Rigo Beltran, Tony Arnold, Ruben Niebla, he played a big role. It meant a lot to me. I know it probably meant a lot to them, too. They put in a lot of time with me.”

Gose was a member of Team USA at the Olympics, and upon returning was on a torrid stretch that led to his promotion on Monday. All along the way, he kept refining.

“That was pretty special. We had a special group there at the Olympics,” Gose said. “I can’t forget Dave Wallace, either, one of the pitching coaches that helped me, from the Olympics. He helped me a lot. Scott Kazmir, David Robertson, Edwin Jackson. All those guys, they really helped me a lot. I went down early and Edwin Jackson and David Robertson really took time out to work with me and help me. … They just gave me a lot of confidence when I went to the Olympics. It was a special time.”

Gose hopeful to carve out a relief role

Gose might not have much time to cement his place in Cleveland’s bullpen moving forward, but he’ll get an opportunity to make a statement over the final two weeks of the season. He’s out of options, which not only created an issue around his promotion — since Cleveland couldn’t demote him afterward without exposing him to waivers — but leaves little flexibility this winter and spring. Cleveland is heading toward a Rule 5 Draft crunch, making every 40-man roster spot valuable.

The likes of Logan Allen and Sam Hentges, both lefties, could also potentially be moved to a bullpen role for Opening Day 2022, when Cleveland will play its first game as the Guardians. Due to all of that, Cleveland needed to try to find out what they might have in him.

It means that Gose has his work cut out for him. But, as he said, he’s “too stupid to quit.”

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