(Our exit interview series looks at how players performed in 2018 along with a preview of their future.)
19.2 innings, 5.95 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 22.0% K-rate, 9.8% BB-rate, 0.0 fWAR
2018: Gohara was often discussed as a possible Rookie of the year candidate entering the season, but an array of problems led to just 77.2 innings when you add in his work in the minors. His father passed away last December, leading to a difficult offseason. Once he arrived in camp, he was sidelined by groin and ankle injuries and didn’t throw a pitch in spring training. He’d also miss time helping his ailing mother in Brazil before suffering a shoulder injury which finally brought his season to a close. When he did pitch, he simply did not look like the guy who shot up through the system last year after opening the season in Florida.
Contract Details: Age-22 when 2019 opens. Team-controlled through at least 2024. Won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2022. Two options remain after using one this season.
Previewing 2019: A much calmer offseason would definitely help Gohara, who must work hard to stay in shape. Certainly with so many other arms – many of which had better 2018 campaigns – it’s possible the Braves may entertain trading Gohara. On the other hand, they will be cautious to not sell low on Gohara, who many still believe has a top-of-the-rotation ceiling.
Beyond the weight concerns, Gohara’s next big task will be to develop a changeup. It’s been on his to-do list for a few years now. The bet the Mariners made when they traded him nearly two years ago was that Gohara either wouldn’t have the ability to stay in shape or develop a changeup to stick as a starter. While he can get outs with his velocity and tremendous slider, he won’t get far into games against right-handed batters without a major league-quality changeup. To this point, it’s just not there for him. More – he is well aware of it. Of the roughly 750 pitches Gohara has thrown in the majors, just 56 of them are changeups. That has to change.
If Gohara does max out as a reliever, he could be a really good one. The fastball/slider combo is of the highest quality when he is on his game. Certainly, the Braves are hoping for more. Both his value to the club and his value in a trade are higher as a starter. And despite all the great arms the Braves have, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Gohara is the best one. He’ll need a big bounce-back season in 2019, though.
Did you know? Gohara has already thrown the second-most innings by a pitcher from Brazil and has the third-most plate appearances by any player from Brazil in major league history. The country has never been known as baseball-rich, though five players from Brazil have debuted in the majors since 2012 – most notably Cleveland’s Yan Gomes.