Washington Nationals: 5 storylines for trip to San Diego

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 16: Ryan Zimmerman
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 16: Ryan Zimmerman /
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Did you ever think a Gio Gonzalez start would flirt with no-hitters regularly?

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He took one into the sixth on Monday, two starts after his one-hitter in Miami on July 31. The game marked the third time this year Gonzalez did not allow a run. In eight other starts, he has allowed a single earned run. Over his 24 times on the mound, he has 20 quality starts. You need to pitch six innings while allowing three earned runs or less to earn one of those.

Gonzalez is on fire.

Since the All-Star break, he is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.50. Opponents carry a slash line of .166/.238/.228 against him. The opponent OPS of 465 adjusts to an eye-popping 27 or 73 percent higher than average.

The key is Gonzalez is pitching to contact. His K/9 is 6.9 from 8.7 in the first half. Yet, his BAbip dropped from .265 to .196. The ability to take pressure off yourself in games is huge. Because the defense behind him makes plays, he is not pressing for strikeouts.

During his last start, Gonzalez had only one swing-and-miss strike and still took a no-hitter into the sixth.

Given his self-confidence and the ample size of Petco Park, Sunday afternoon’s start slants in Gonzalez’s favor. A bad offense against a pitcher who will get Cy Young votes.

Next: Nats defense has issues

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