Gio Gonzalez: About Last Night (8/5)

Gio Gonzalez after watching Aaron Barrett pitch.

Gio Gonzalez after watching Aaron Barrett pitch.

Sometimes I wonder if Gio Gonzalez’s curveball is too good. Oh, he threw one to Wellington Castillo in the first that absolutely froze the right-handed hitting catcher. He did the same to Chris Owings in the second. Both were punch outs and both on sweeping hooks that buckled the knees of the righties. You don’t see that very often from lefties. Clayton Kershaw makes a living doing that to righties. Gonzalez’s curveball has that sort of power. It’s like he summons the power of Greyskull when he drops that curve.

Then, he begins throwing it early in the count and it breaks a little too much and now he’s behind. I’m not saying he’s addicted to break. He still has that 93-mph fastball to rely upon, and he spotted that well last night. I love watching Gonzalez pitch when he’s hitting that low outside corner to righties. He can be an absolute handful when he’s on, and even when he’s not, even when he’s allowing eight hits in five innings like he did last night, he typically doesn’t get hurt by it because of his ability to pitch out of trouble.

I know Nats fans find his inconsistency maddening, but he really is the closest I’ve seen to Sid Fernandez in a while. Last night, Gonzalez pitched 5+, allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven. The hits are a bit misleading. An infield single to Ender Inciarte in the third looked like an out on replay, and without that bit of trouble Paul Goldschmidt and Castillo’s singles don’t hurt as much. Goldschmidt also had an infield single in the first and a single just out of Anthony Rendon’s reach in the fifth. The Diamondbacks got their hits, but not all eight hits in five inning outings are equal. If there’s any complaint here maybe it’s that Gio didn’t look A.J. Pollock back to second when he and Goldschmidt had a double steal in the fifth.

That’s a little unfair. He half-heartedly faked a few throws to second. Pollock knew Gonzalez could fake throw like nobody’s business.

It didn’t amount to anything as Gonzalez struck out Castillo and then Aaron Hill to end the inning. What I love about those at-bats was that Gonzalez froze them with inside fastballs. Castillo remembered that curve in the first. Hill remembered that Castillo remembered then he froze from thinking too much. There’s the real issue, though. Gonzalez is always pitching under duress, figuring out ways to pitch with men on base and needing to come up with big pitches to get out of trouble. It takes its toll. It also leads to five inning outings and a call to the bullpen with no outs in the sixth.

Gonzalez has made 20 starts and pitched a whopping total of 115 1/3 innings. He hasn’t come close to 200 innings since 2012-13 and he won’t hit that total this year. I bet he’s up there in pitches thrown, though.

He does go through some pitches.

Personally, I think he likes to watch the curveball break and the look of wonder and amazement on batter’s faces. It’s aesthetics. I can respect that. The Nats bullpen might not like it so much, but beauty is truth, truth beauty.


Below I’ve listed the particulars for yesterday’s game. The tables and charts don’t exactly tell the entire story of last night’s pitching performance. These are just numbers, not stories, and each start is its own individual story. I like to think of these charts as the footnotes at the bottom of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. They’re not essential to making sense of the story’s narrative flow, but it definitely adds to the story’s richness if you understand the political and religious climates of late nineteenth century Ireland. In other words, it’s one thing to know that a thing occurred in a linear fashion, but it’s best to gain a deeper understanding as to why those events occurred.

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    13 13.7
##   Curveball    15 15.8
##    Fourseam    32 33.7
##    Two-seam    35 36.8

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam
## Ball                             3         4        9       10
## Ball In Dirt                     1         1        0        0
## Called Strike                    3         3        7        7
## Foul                             1         2        8       10
## Foul Tip                         0         0        1        0
## In play, no out                  2         2        2        2
## In play, out(s)                  0         0        2        5
## In play, run(s)                  0         0        1        0
## Missed Bunt                      0         1        0        0
## Swinging Strike                  3         1        2        1
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         1        0        0

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Horizontal Mean Vertical
##    Changeup 81.0 83.6 87.5           8.952         2.709
##   Curveball 76.4 78.8 80.6          -4.842        -9.503
##    Fourseam 90.8 92.5 94.2           6.921         8.303
##    Two-seam 89.9  92. 94.2           9.844         5.584

Note: Horizontal movement denotes average distance, in inches, from point of release to home plate (+ moves away from a right-handed batter) while vertical movement is average distance, in inches, from release point to home plate.

Average (MPH) Velocity for Pitches by Starters Last Night:

0806_GioAvgBelow are the pitch locations by both batter stance (left or right) and by pitch type.

Pitch Location by Batter Stance:

0808_GioStancePitch Location by Pitch Type:

0806_GioPitchesPitch Locations by Batter:

0806_GioBattersPitch Location by Pitch Type & Batter Stance:


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