Saturday, July 15, 2017


When talk begins about the extreme potency of the Washington Nationals starting rotation, almost 99 percent of the chatter centers around uber-aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.  That would be understandable given the vast collection of Cy Youngs (Scherzer) and incredible strikeout ability (both) these two aces put forth on a yearly basis.  However you make the case that the Nats have a three-headed monster at the top of the rotation when you look at what lefty veteran Gio Gonzalez is accomplishing this season.  Already having a big season going into the All-Star break, Gonzalez picked up right where he left on in his first second-half start Friday when he tossed 8.1 scoreless frames versus the Cincinnati Reds.  Scattering four hits and two walks while striking out six, Gonzalez lowered his ERA to 2.66 to go with a 1.19 WHIP and 8 wins.  All from a guy who was a late round pick in many drafts this spring coming off a 4.57 ERA horror show the year prior.  So what has gone into the turnaround here and can it continue?

Well first off, Gonzalez is still young at the age of 31 and he has been a very underrated starter for years.  Going back to 2010 when he was with the Oakland A's, Gonzalez reeled off six straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00 and in 2012 he got that number down to 2.89.   Considered a power lefty, Gonzalez struck out 207 batters that year and has generally been a mid-8.00 K/9 guy.  The big issue for Gonzalez each and every season though is walks and an utter lack of control.  That has led to some shaky WHIP's and undermined some potential wins due to having to come out of starts earlier then he would like.  Alas Gonzalez is still walking a lot of batters this season as his very high 3.77 BB/9 rate shows but he has kept the hits to a minimum which has helped curb any potential damage there.  The 8.58 K/9 checks out as standard operating fare from Gonzalez but not the lucky .254 BABIP which could be trouble.  When Gonzalez' ERA is adjusted, it comes out to a more ugly 4.07 FIP and 4.23 XFIP.  In other words, Gonzalez is pitching above his advanced peripherals.  In cases such as this, you would want to sell high but the market for Gonzalez is likely to be muted given that he falls into the boring veteran category.  Thus your best bet is to either throw him as part of a piece of a bigger package or simply ride it out and hope Gonzalez continues to pitch above his advanced numbers.  Either way to this point, the guy has been a superb value.

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