Yankees’ Juan Soto ‘shocked’ to find Yoendrys Gomez ‘unbelievable’

Charles Wenzelberg/NYP
Inna Zeyger
Sunday June 23, 2024

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In a surprising twist during the New York Yankees’ 8-1 defeat to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, rookie pitcher Yoendrys Gomez shone brightly amid the team’s ongoing pitching difficulties. He stepped in for starter Carlos Rodon, who left in the fourth after being booed and battered at Yankee Stadium, but won a standing ovation from the fans.

Yankees right fielder Juan Soto expressed amazement at Gomez’s performance, highlighting how the rookie managed to contain the Braves’ potent lineup. The pitcher delivered 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out five and allowing only three walks and three hits. His 78-pitch effort, coming in with the Yankees trailing 8-1, earned a standing ovation from the crowd.

Soto stressed the importance of Gomez’s outing in preserving the Yankees bullpen and keeping the team’s hopes alive in the series.

“It really shocked me with what he can do today,” the superstar slugger said. “He kept those guys who came in swinging hot and he shut them down all the way to the ninth inning. He was unbelievable. He saved us the bullpen and gave us a shot to win the series.”

The Yankees’ bullpen has faced significant challenges lately, contributing to their three-game losing streak. In June, the relievers have posted a 4.80 ERA, a stark contrast to their early-season form. The pitching staff’s struggles have been compounded by injuries, with eight pitchers currently on the injured list.

Gomez’s strong showing offers a glimmer of hope for the Yankees as they strive to address their pitching woes and halt their recent slide. Rodon acknowledged Gomez’s vital contribution, noting the young pitcher’s ability to cover significant innings and pitch into the ninth despite the team’s loss.

Promoted from Triple-A on Friday morning after Victor Gonzalez was designated for assignment, Gómez quickly made an impact for the New York Yankees in his second major league appearance of the season. Called into action following starter Carlos Rodón’s short 3 2/3 inning outing, which saw him give up eight runs (seven earned), Gómez delivered a standout performance.

Gomez’s 4 2/3 innings of relief marked the longest by a Yankee since Jhony Brito‘s five-inning effort last August. Brito was included in the trade package sent to San Diego for Juan Soto during the offseason.

Ranked as the Yankees’ No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Gómez demonstrated his potential by tallying 12 swings and misses along with five strikeouts, while conceding just three hits and three walks.

Yankees' Yoendrys Gomez is pitching for the Somerset Patriots in MiLB.

Gomez shines in Yankees bullpen stint

At Triple-A, the 24-year-old had been impressive, posting a 3.13 ERA and striking out 54 batters over 46 innings in 12 starts. Gomez’s capacity to provide length out of the bullpen could earn him more opportunities at the major league level, although his minor-league options make him a likely candidate for frequent roster moves.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone emphasized the importance of Gomez’s performance, particularly given the recent strain on the bullpen and the limited availability of pitchers. Boone suggested that efforts like he did, even in losing games, could have a positive impact on future matchups.

“Look, we’ll go day by day with it,” the Yankees skipper said about the rookie, “but we kind of got reset last night. … We’ll keep evaluating it and talking about it each and every day but feel like we’re in line to be OK now.”

The crowd at Yankee Stadium showed their appreciation for Gomez’s effort, giving him a resounding ovation when he was removed in the ninth inning. His performance offered a bright spot in an otherwise tough game for the Yankees.

His performance was especially vital given the recent heavy workload of the Yankees‘ bullpen, which had used six relievers in each of the previous two games.

Despite throwing 78 pitches, which will likely keep him sidelined for a few days, Gomez’s role as a starting pitcher for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season—aside from one relief appearance for the Yankees in May—means he is used to a weekly pitching schedule.

Yankees prospect Yoendrys Gomez

Given his strong showing, Gomez has likely secured his place on the roster for now, providing the Yankees with a valuable arm as they navigate their pitching challenges.

Manager Aaron Boone explained that Gomez’s lengthy outing effectively reset the bullpen. With just two games remaining before a scheduled off day, the Yankees are confident in their current pitching depth. Boone indicated they plan to deploy him in a multi-inning role once he has had sufficient rest, underscoring their day-by-day approach to roster management.

The decision to retain Gomez underscores the Yankees’ belief in his capabilities and their strategic handling of the pitching staff amid recent challenges.

The New York Yankees are eyeing Yoendrys Gomez as a versatile pitching option, drawing parallels to Jhony Brito’s successful shift to long relief last season. With Michael King’s departure and Luke Weaver handling more high-pressure situations, Gómez could fill a critical role in the bullpen.

Manager Aaron Boone hinted at Gomez’s potential value in games where starting pitchers have shorter outings. For instance, if ace Gerrit Cole, who is still ramping up his workload, only goes four innings in his upcoming start against the Mets, Gomez might step in to cover multiple innings and bridge the gap to late-inning relievers.

The Yankees see Gomez’s current stint in the majors as pivotal for his development, regardless of its duration. He could emerge as a key contributor this summer, especially as injured pitchers return and potential trade deadline acquisitions are considered, or solidify his place as a long-term bullpen asset. Moreover, strong performances could enhance Gomez’s appeal as a trade asset leading up to the deadline.

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