Washington Nationals Need Gio Gonzalez Now More Than Ever
By Matt Weyrich
In wake of Stephen Strasburg’s possible season-ending injury, the Washington Nationals need Gio Gonzalez to step up. Can the veteran lefty deliver?
When the Washington Nationals $175-million-dollar right-hander Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.60 ERA) left his first start back from the Disabled List on September 7 in the third inning, Washington knew that their other starters were going to have to play a bigger role down the stretch. After getting the results back on Saturday, however, Strasburg didn’t sound too optimistic when asked about his chances of pitching in the postseason.
"“I can’t make that claim,” Strasburg said. “There’s still pretty much a month left in the season and I’m just trying to get back healthy and hopefully when we’re still playing baseball.” (h/t Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post)"
With Strasburg out indefinitely, who will the Nats hand the ball to once October comes around? Max Scherzer (16-7, 2.78) and Tanner Roark (14-8, 2.85) have locked down the top two spots in the playoff rotation, but behind them is a handful of candidates.
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The most likely suitor of one of those spots is 30-year old left-hander Gio Gonzalez (11-9, 4.27), who has seen his fair share of ups and downs this season. Gonzalez, whose ERA has risen in each of his last four seasons, has by far the most playoff experience of any of the candidates. He has a 3.21 career postseason ERA in 14 innings, all with the Washington Nationals.
Behind Gio, Baker is going to have to choose between Joe Ross, Mat Latos, A.J. Cole, Reynaldo Lopez, and Lucas Giolito. With none of these starters a sure bet to perform, the weight on Gonzalez’s shoulders is only that much bigger. The Nats are going to need him to pitch like he did Sunday night, when he allowed only one run and four hits across seven innings while striking out five.
Gonzalez is certainly capable of twirling spectacular performances, but he is just as susceptible to letting opposing offenses have a field day at the plate. Over his last 16 starts, Gonzalez has allowed two runs or less eight times. He has given up four runs or more in six of those starts.
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If the Washington Nationals are going to shake off their playoff demons and go deep into October, Gio Gonzalez is going to have to play a major role in making that happen. Hopefully for Washington, the right Gio shows up when it counts.