Despite winning 21 games and leading his team to their first NL East pennant, Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez finished third in voting for the NL Cy Young Award. He got one first place vote and 93 total points. R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets won the award with Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers finishing second.
Though Gonzalez did not win, he had the best season of any Nationals pitcher since they arrived from Montreal in 2005. Gonzalez finished the 2012 season with a 21-8 record, 2.89 ERA and 207 strike outs. His win total was the most of any pitcher in the NL and one more than Dickey. Kershaw went 14-9.
Gonzalez came to Washington in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. He was brought in to be the number two starter behind ace Stephen Strasburg. In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg was put on a 160 innings pitch limit. This meant that Gonzalez would become the ace when Strasburg was removed from the rotation.
Gonzalez did everything that the Nationals asked of him. He was the left handed starter that they could rely on to change things up after Strasburg pitched. Along with Strasburg, Gonzalez gave Washington two chances to end any losing streaks that may have been in progress when they took the mound. Gonzalez also brought a confidence to the Nationals young pitchers that they needed.
The one thing that Gonzalez may have lacked was consistency. There were times when he struggled to get his pitches over the plate. Gonzalez led all Washington pitchers in walks with 76. Even if Strasburg had continued to pitch he would not have finished ahead of Gonzalez. If Gonzalez had been able to cut down on his walks he may have won two to three more games and the Cy Young.
Still, 21 victories is nothing to sneeze at. Before Gonzalez, the most wins by any Nationals pitcher in a single season was 15 by Livan Hernandez in 2005. Strasburg went 15-6 this past season. 2012 is the first time that Washington has had two pitchers with 15 or more wins.
Gonzalez had a very good 2012 season. Whether he was the best pitcher in the NL is debatable. Dickey certainly did more with less as the Mets finished 74-88. The one thing we do know is Gonzalez helped lead his team to the post season. That is what he gets paid to do.
There may be a Cy Young Award in Gonzalez’ future. For now, he must be content with knowing that he helped his team to its most successful season in their short time in Washington.
This is good enough for Nationals fans.