Cubs, David Ross seeing benefits of Yan Gomes, resting Willson Contreras
When the Cubs signed Yan Gomes in the offseason, they were hoping he would provide relief to Willson Contreras and allow him to play at a high level throughout the season.
Eight games into the season and David Ross is already seeing the benefits of that.
The Gomes-Contreras tandem showed it’s prowess Sunday, with Contreras hitting a solo home run in the 1st inning and Gomes going 2-for-5 with an RBI in the Cubs’ 6-4 win over the Rockies in their series finale.
“It already seems to be playing out really well,” Ross said prior to Sunday’s finale in Colorado. “His at-bats have stood out to me so far. His batting practice, the way he goes about his business, his work, the way his engagement throughout a game with the pitching staff and the at-bats has really stood out so far to me and the way he’s running the bases.”
The numbers — both traditional and advanced — back that up.
Entering Sunday’s game, Contreras was slashing .304/.407/.565 with a home run and 2 RBI and he has an OPS+ of 175 — 100 is league average and each point above is a percentage point better than league average, so Contreras is 75% better than the league average.
Contreras is hitting the ball hard, too, which is leading to success. His average exit velocity this season entering Sunday’s game was 95.2 miles-per-hour, which is in the 5% percentile of the league. That’s led to success for him and the Cubs.
Couple that with Gomes’ bat and it’s a potent 1-2 tandem for the Cubs.
Gomes is 3-for-8 to start the season and is also hitting the ball hard, with an average exit velocity of 93.1 miles-per-hour this season. That allows Ross to start Gomes at catcher and move Contreras to the designated hitter position to give him some time off at the demanding catching position.
“Trying not to push guys, I mean 9 innings in back-to-backs and day after night like this one is and how well Willy’s swinging the bat and they both hit lefty’s well, it’s been pretty easy,”
Ross said. “I mean Yan has dove in, found his groove, getting to know guys, how we do things.”
As the season progress, that could be a real benefit to the Cubs. The Cubs can turn to Contreras later on in the season and know there won’t a dip in productivity.
“I think he’ll be able to give us that little bit extra of intensity and not feel like he’s gotta conserve so much,” Ross said. “That should pay off in the long run. I’m excited to see that.”