Washington Nationals: 5 to watch as Braves visit before All-Star Break

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Brandon Phillips
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Brandon Phillips /
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Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez’s first season in the nation’s capital in 2012 was one for the ages. He finished third in NL Cy Young voting and appeared to be an outstanding acquisition. While Gonzalez has been a solid pitcher throughout his career in Washington, he has struggled to regain his 2012 form.

That is, until this year. In 17 starts, Gonzalez has a 2.77 ERA, which is third in the National League behind only Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw.

Unfortunately for Gonzalez, he has struggled mightily against the Braves throughout his career. To make matters worse, the Braves are in the Nats’ division so he has to pitch against them more than other teams. In 18 starts against Atlanta, Gonzalez is 4-9 with a 5.13 ERA.

Gonzalez has pitched against Atlanta once this year, lasting just 5.2 innings and allowing four runs, which is the most he’s allowed in a start this season. One thing to keep in mind about this start is that it occurred at SunTrust Park, which has proved to be extremely hitter-friendly in its first season. When Gonzalez faces Atlanta tonight, it will be at Nationals Park.

Several Braves hitters have enjoyed success against Gonzalez over the years. Ender Inciarte has a .529 batting average in 17 at-bats against Gonzalez. Another notable Brave with success against Gonzalez is Freddie Freeman who has hit .306 with two homers and 12 RBI’s in 36 at-bats.

Gonzalez has struggled against the Braves in the past, but is currently having one of the best seasons of his career. This will be his final start before the All-Star break and he appears to be deserving of being named an All-Star. A quality start could lead to him being added to the National League roster, which he has said is his goal since Spring Training.