Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Casey Janssen Blows Game Late Vs. Reds

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May 30, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher

Gio Gonzalez

(47) kneels after being hit by a pitch from Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher

Raisel Iglesias

in the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Should Not Have Pitched The 6th Inning

Gio Gonzalez was running himself into a high pitch coun yesterday due to his inability to get batters out after getting ahead 0-2 or 1-2 in counts. He started nibbling around the outside of the plate looking for a close strike three call to go his way. It didn’t happen and he ended up in 3-2 counts, which resulted either walking the batter or finally throwing something in the strike zone. This attempt at finessing strikeouts leads to Gio’s inability to stay in games past the sixth or seventh inning.

Yesterday,  Gio was nibbling. But, his pitch count wasn’t insanely high at the start of the sixth inning. The Nationals had just gone ahead of the Reds by three runs in the top of the sixth thanks to a three run homer by Michael Taylor.

However, one of the other things that happened during the top of the sixth inning was that Gio was hit by a pitch by Reds starter Raisel Iglesias for the second time in the game. The pitch hit him square on his left elbow. Gio pitches with his left hand, but bats righty. He wears a pad on his left elbow to protect it, but taking a pitch right off the elbow, even with the pad on, is painful. Gonzalez was clearly in pain when he was hit.

I’m sure Matt Williams and Gio had that conversation after Gonzalez came off the field–“How’s your elbow, do you feel OK?” “Yeah, I’m fine. I can still pitch.”

Williams needed to realize that no pitcher is going to admit that they are ready to come out of a game. Of course Gonzalez was going to say he was fine. Williams needed to be the adult in the room and say no–I want to make sure that elbow is OK. We just went ahead by three runs. I want to go to the bullpen. I don’t want to take a chance on Gonzalez damaging his elbow in case that pitch did do some damage.

Williams listened to Gio instead and Gonzalez allowed two runs to score and only got one more out before Williams pulled him. Gio was clearly having trouble. He started off the inning walking Joey Votto, and then gave up a double to Todd Frazier. Votto scored on a groundout to second by Jay Bruce, which advanced Frazier to third. Then, Gio gave up a single to Brayan Pena that scored Frazier. Blake Treinen had to come in to clean up the mess. The Reds were only down one run and back within easy striking distance.

Gonzalez should not have been sent out to pitch the sixth inning. Once he did start the inning, he should have been pulled after the walk to Votto and double by Frazier. It was clear from the first two batters that Gio’s control was gone and, I would hazard to guess, his elbow was hurting.

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