Washington Nationals: Opening Day 2017 Roster Projection
By Ricky Keeler
This offseason, the Washington Nationals decided to pick up Gonzalez’s $12 million option. While you may criticize that decision, it was a smart move by the organization considering the lack of quality pitching on the free agent market this winter.
For me, the key word for Gonzalez in 2017 is consistency. During the month of April, the left-hander had a 1.42 ERA in his first four starts. Then, the struggles began. In three of the final five months of the seasons, team had an opponents batting average of .290 or higher.
When looking at Gonzalez this spring, the one major thing to look out for is his confidence. With that being, his strong April last year was preceded by a spring training in which he had more walks (12) than strikeouts (11).
Heading into his age 32 season, the Washington Nationals need Gonzalez to be more dependable than he has been. They need him to pitch at least six innings a night and put the team in a position to win. He didn’t do that in the postseason last year as he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning in Game 3 of the NLDS.
Yes, Gonzalez is not the pitcher that he was in 2012 when he won 21 games and had an ERA under three. At the same time, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to finish the 2017 season with an ERA under four.
Gonzalez has been durable for the Washington Nationals. He has made 30 or more starts in four of his five seasons in the nation’s capital. There’s no question that he is durable. Now, in 2017, he needs to have consistency in addition with his durability.