Washington Nationals: Gio Gonzalez Showing Confidence In Tough Spots
By Ricky Keeler
In his first two starts of the season, Washington Nationals left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez has shown a ton of confidence on the mound
Heading into the 2017 season, there weren’t many question marks in the Washington Nationals rotation. If there was a question mark, it was how Gio Gonzalez would do. It’s only two starts, but the left-hander has started the year on a good note.
Last night, in the 8-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Gonzalez went seven innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits, struck out six, and did not walk a batter on 103 pitches (67 strikes) in the win. It is the first time he has thrown 5+ innings and not walked a batter since June 3, 2016 against the Cincinnati Reds (22 start span).
Now, Gonzalez did make some mistakes last night. He hung a breaking ball to Dexter Fowler, which led to a double and an eventual run in the first inning. Then, in the fourth, Randal Grichuk hit a changeup over the wall in right center for a solo shot.
More from District on Deck
- Latest DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code in Maryland: Bet $5, Win $200 Guaranteed
- Nationals Claim Jeter Downs Off Waivers
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
Other than those two situations, Gonzalez was sharp. After not having a single 1-2-3 inning against the Miami Marlins in his first outing, he retired the last 11 Cardinals hitters he faced and had three 1-2-3 innings in a row (5th-7th).
The sample size is small, but Gonzalez has been especially sharp with runners in scoring position. So far, hitters are 0-for-9 with four strikeouts in those spots. Yes, he is still talking to himself on the mound, but he looks much more confident than he did towards the end of last season.
While Gonzalez won’t blow anyone away with the velocity on his fastball, he has done a good job of mixing up the location of that pitch. Last night, he did a good job of throwing it on the corners, especially on the inside corner to right-handed batters. When he does that, it allows him to use his changeup and breaking ball.
According to Brooks Baseball, teams have two hits in nine at-bats against Gonzalez’s breaking ball this year. Plus, he has yet to allow an extra-base hit when he throws a fastball.
As the fourth starter in the Washington Nationals rotation, all the team needs is for Gonzalez to give them six consistent innings each and every night. Last April, he did just that and pitched to a 1.42 ERA. But, can he keep that consistency up into May, which he didn’t do last year (5.23 ERA, six home runs allowed)?
Next: Daniel Murphy's Amazing Night
It is only two games, but Gonzalez has been a pleasant surprise for the Washington Nationals in this young season. If he can have more shutdown innings, maybe 2017 is a different season for him.