The Washington Nationals’ pitching staff is an interesting mix of characters. You’ve got the all-business types like Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, but then you’ve got the goofy and hilarious type like Gio Gonzalez.
Gonzalez will be entering his third season with the Nationals since being acquired via a trade with the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2012 season. Right from the get-go, he brought a smile to the dugout as well as the stands. The pure joy and excitement that he plays with is contagious, and the Nationals are better off because of it.
While he does like to have fun, don’t think he doesn’t have a serious side. When Gonzalez wants to get down to business and put together a gem on the diamond, he’s more than capable of doing it. He was a solid pitcher in Oakland, but his career has taken off in D.C.
In two seasons with the Nationals, Gonzalez is 32-16 with a 3.12 ERA and 399 strikeouts. His 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings rivals that of Strasburg, and whenever your numbers rival a guy like him you’re doing something right. Gonzalez will be entering his seventh healthy year in MLB and will be turning 29 this September, so I see no reason why he can’t duplicate his recent success.
Gonzalez will likely fall smack-dab in the middle of the Nationals’ rotation, sandwiched in the three-hole between Zimmermann and the newly acquired Doug Fister. As a left-handed hurler, he’ll provide nice change in the middle of a righty-dominated rotation. Last year, Gonzalez was very strong in Spring Training with a 3-0 record and a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts. You can expect a similar performance this year.
This offseason, much of the focus has been on Zimmermann, Fister and whomever will be pitching in the fifth spot. Gonzalez has almost become a forgotten gem in the middle of the rotation. This spring, keep an eye on the two-time All-Star. Mike Rizzo has done a fantastic job putting together what will likely be MLB’s best rotation. While Gonzalez may not be the most notable character in that bunch, he is one of the most dangerous.