Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em: Why Now May Be The Perfect Time To Sell Gio Gonzalez

A lot of people appear to be surprised that Gio Gonzalez got off to a terrible start in 2013. While I am not about to sit here and tell you that anyone should have expected him to be this bad (entered yesterday with a 5.85 ERA and 1.45 WHIP), the fact that he is struggling really shouldn’t be all that eye-popping.

Let’s look at a few facts (all stats prior to last night’s start):

Gonzalez has always had control issues
In fact, prior to 2012 his best BB/9 was 4.05 and even in the minor leagues he had a 4.00 career walk rate (including 4.65 over 184.0 in is at Triple-A). The fact that he was having control issues, which helped contribute to his struggles, really should not have been a major surprise.

Gonzalez enjoyed some luck in 2012
He actually produced a line drive rate of 21.9%, so we can easily say that his .267 BABIP was luck aided. This season he actually had been hit even harder through his first four starts, to the tune of a 23.6% line drive rate, leading to a .296 BABIP. In fact, to a degree, we can also say that this number is a little bit lucky.

Gonzalez also has shown an early season decrease in velocity, as his fastball is currently averaging 91.9 mph (down from 93.1 in 2012). At the same time, his career average is 92.2 mph so this isn’t overly alarming.

That’s not to say that he isn’t going to improve. He has continued to show great strikeout stuff and, albeit in a small sample size, his groundball rate sat a career best 50.9% (career mark of 47.8%). Throw in a below average strand rate of 61.1% and we virtually know that an improvement is coming.

Last night he showed us his upside, allowing 1 ER on 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 innings against the Reds. He reduced his overall line drive rate to 19.4%, though the BABIP is still significantly luck driven (.225).

It was promising, but I still wouldn’t expect him to post numbers similar to that of 2012. Those first two points loom large and, while it is a small sample, there is a track record of struggles (especially with his control). Selling him may have been difficult, but after last night you could be able to get someone to pay a Cy Young price tag for him. If you can, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

What are your thoughts of Gonzalez?  Do you think he is going to get back towards his 2012 numbers?  Would you sell him now?


  1. Joey Gladstone says:

    Keep up the great work guys!

    I was hoping you could help me out…I just traded Mauer and now have an opening at catcher. I would really appreciate some input from you on who I should grab. It’s a 12 team H2H league. AVG, OBP, TB, H, R, HR, SB, RBI

    Here are my options:
    Carlos Ruiz, Russell Martin, Alex Avila, Chris Iannetta, Jordan Pacheco, Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuski, Derek Norris, John Jaso, Francisco Cervelli, Nick Hundley, Tyler Flowers.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      With Ruiz close to returning he would be my first choice (though not by much).

      For the short-term you could use Russell Martin (who we were higher on heading into the season) and then just mix and match by playing waivers and scooping up the hot hand. While none of the names are sexy, they all could produce value throughout the season.

  2. Stephen T. says:

    I don’t think I would think to sell him. I mean for a guy that you drafted probably in the 4th to 6th round he should keep his value around at the least. Like you said he has always had some control issues but has always been able to keep it to a low 3 ERA (exception of last year at 2.89). Also with a team that is going to probably win a lot and 9 k/9 rate he should still do well this year.

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