Starts like last night against the Philadelphia Phillies show why we should trust in the consistent inconsistency of Gio Gonzalez for the Washington Nationals
Gio Gonzalez is clearly the most polarizing Washington Nationals starter. He throws a lot of pitches, walks too many hitters, and either escapes runners-in-scoring-position situations flawlessly or with disastrous results.
The consensus opinion on Gonzalez’s ability to keep a spot in the Washington Nationals’ rotation seems to be split because of this. He sometimes sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the rest of the rotation’s elite numbers. I’ve seen online opinions calling out his worst starts and using that cherry-pick to show how he hurts the Washington Nationals or how he will never help them in the postseason due to his erratic style.
However, when his team-friendly contract (two more years left of team control at $12 million after $8 million this year) is combined with his role — back-of-the-rotation starter — it’s clear that he is one of the best and most valuable in baseball for what he does.
Let’s not go into advanced stats. Gonzalez’s best asset is simply his durability and the fact that the team knows exactly what they will get out of him every fifth day. He’s made 27 or more starts every year since 2010, with 31 or more in five of those years.
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Last night against the Phillies is a great example of the pitcher he’s been of late. Gonzalez went six innings and gave up one run on two hits in a win. He has eight starts with under two earned runs since July 10! Where is the doubt coming from? From horrid stretches like June — 26 earned runs in six starts.
Yes, his starting performances are inconsistent, but he’s consistently a 4.00 ERA pitcher at the back end. There is great value in that especially when you look at the salaries of other back end starters in the league.
When you see the likes of Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Gimenez making a combined $11 and $12 million this year respectively for 5.62 and 6.46 ERA’s, Gonzalez’s numbers look much better. No rotation is elite from top to bottom, but the Washington Nationals are one of the teams that are close to that. That’s because of Gio and the young and underrated Joe Ross. We need to trust in his inconsistency! At the end of the day, he ends up with the same reliable stats every year.
We need to trust in his inconsistency! At the end of the day, he ends up with the same reliable stats every year. 3.41 combined ERA and 3.37 combined FIP in the last six seasons. 1,286 innings pitched. 8.7 K’s/9. Those are elite numbers for his role compared to the rest of the league.
He’s going to have his ups and downs. But what pitcher doesn’t? His pitching style isn’t that effective in the playoffs, though; that’s where his inconsistencies are put under and microscope in small sample sizes. That’s not a huge concern, as Gonzalez doesn’t have to be slotted into the four-man postseason rotation). As far as getting the Washington Nationals to the playoffs and giving reliable start after reliable start during the regular season…he’s as good as it gets.