Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: What’s Wrong With Gio Gonzalez?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Gio Gonzalez has clearly been one of the biggest disappointments this season, though his 4.00 ERA and 1.31 WHIP doesn’t fully indicate it. That’s because he wasn’t terrible in the first half, when healthy, but since the All-Star Break the wheels have completely fallen off.

He’s gone 24.2 innings with an ERA of 5.47 and WHIP of 1.62. Part of the problem has been a lack of control, with a 4.38 BB/9, and part has been an inflated line drive rate leading to a poor BABIP and strand rate (23.5%, .386 and 64.8%, respectively).

The problem hasn’t been his Fourseam fastball, as opponents are hitting .156 against the pitch over this stretch. It’s the secondary pitches where opponents of really taken advantage of (BAA/SLG):

  • Sinker – .546/.636
  • Change up – .286/.393
  • Curve – .214/.286

The curveball obviously hasn’t hurt him, but it’s also the pitch he uses the least. It’s interesting, because the sinker has actually been a problem for him all season long, with opponents hitting .397 average and .641 SLG from the start of the season through July 19. As his second most utilized pitch you have to wonder two things:

  1. Is he some how tipping the pitch
  2. Why hasn’t he either made an adjustment or shelved the pitch

Maybe he needs to alter his approach, because obviously something is not working with the pitch.

Gonzalez is striking batters out, with a 9.50 K/9, but he’s now failed to finish 5.0 innings in three of his past five starts. It’s also not like he’s been facing juggernaut offenses over this stretch, including getting the Mets and Phillies at home.

Is he a pitcher to completely cut bait on? Absolutely not, as he’s proven that he can get the job done and rack up the strikeouts. As long as he’s healthy the potential is going to be there for him to thrive.

However, until he fixes the obvious problem he is going to have to do it from fantasy benches (assuming you have a viable alternative). With the way he’s been going there is simply too much downside, regardless of the matchup. He should right the ship before long, but as long as you have someone to plug in just wait and see how he progresses.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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