Washington Nationals: Gio Gonzalez our player of the week

MIAMI, FL - JULY 31: Gio Gonzalez
MIAMI, FL - JULY 31: Gio Gonzalez /

Gio Gonzalez continued his masterful bounce-back season this week, leading to him being named District on Deck’s Washington Nationals player of the week.

Since being acquired from Oakland prior to the 2012 season, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez has always been a steady contributor in the rotation. Although steady, he has not been spectacular since 2012. That is, until this year.

The addition of Matt Wieters has improved Gonzalez’s pace, among other things and has led to Gonzalez regaining his Cy Young Award-worthy form. This year, Gonzalez has been an outstanding third starter behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and has been a joy to watch.

In addition to being among the best pitchers on the Nationals’ staff, Gonzalez has been among the best pitchers in the league. His 2.66 ERA ranks third in the MLB behind only Clayton Kershaw and Scherzer.

In a season in which Scherzer has dealt with a neck issue, Strasburg has dealt with an arm injury, Tanner Roark has struggled with consistency, and Joe Ross underwent Tommy John Surgery, Gonzalez has consistently given the Nats anything they could possibly wish for.

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Gonzalez’s masterful season continued this week with arguably the best start of his career. On Monday in Miami, Gonzalez took the mound to conclude one of his most emotional days of the season. Pitching in Miami, just eight miles from his hometown of Hialeah, Florida, he pitched in front of several family members and friends.

Pitching in front of family and friends is nothing new for Gonzalez. What was new, however, was pitching on his late friend Jose Fernandez‘s birthday in what was his home ballpark. All things considered, this was one of the most emotional days of the season for Gonzalez and he still managed to pitch arguably the best game of his career.

After a whirlwind day, in which Gonzalez was also waiting to hear that his fiancee had gone into labor, he was still pitching in the ninth inning and had not allowed a hit. Although Dee Gordon singled to lead off the ninth and ended Gonzalez’s no-hit bid, he had pitched wonderfully.

Everyone took notice of his outstanding start and understood the circumstances, which led to a beautiful moment as he left the game. Upon surrendering the baseball to manager Dusty Baker, Gonzalez received a standing ovation from the Miami crowd and was congratulated by several Marlins, including Giancarlo Stanton. It’s not everyday that you see a player receive a standing ovation from an opposing team’s crowd, but this special occasion was a truly beautiful moment.

When all was said and done, Gonzalez had pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just the one hit. Thanks to his phenomenal performance, the Nationals won the game 1-0. This was arguably the best game of Gonzalez’s career, and all the surrounding circumstances make it that much more impressive.

This week has been a milestone week for Gonzalez off the field as well. He and his fiancee are expecting their second child any day now and Gonzalez has been placed on paternity leave, as he joined her in DC. With a life seemingly revolving around baseball, the best start of Gonzalez’s career will take a backseat to bringing his second child into the world. It sure is funny how life works sometimes.

Next: Future protected as Nats push for now

Fan favorite Gio Gonzalez has enjoyed the best season of his career this year, which was highlighted by the best start of his career on Monday. When all is said and done with Gonzalez’s career, this will without a doubt be one of his most memorable weeks. After taking a no-hit bid into the ninth inning on one of his most emotional days of the season and expecting his second child, Gio Gonzalez is District on Deck’s player of the week.