Bullish or Bearish: Gio Gonzalez
A Look at the Real Gio Gonzalez
Command has never been Gio’s thing, but when you strike out a batter per inning, that affords you some slack. Sure enough, Gio struck out almost exactly one batter per inning (9.0 K/9) over his first four years with the Nationals. However, after four straight years of a mid to low 3s ERA, Gio had a hard time getting anything to work in 2016, booking his worst ERA since his early years in Oakland at 4.57. To the common viewer of cable TV sports channels, 2017 looks like a return to normality for Gio, currently sporting a luck-riddled 2.83 ERA. However. there’s a reason that those of us who can think for ourselves don’t watch the “four letter network” as some of its former employees refer to it.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. Gio has an FIP of 4.15 and an xFIP of 4.30, which is the most straightforward way of calling BS on that elite looking ERA. The last time Gio had a FIP or xFIP over 3.80 was 2010 when his xFIP was 4.04 but his FIP was still 3.78. His BABIP is currently .252, a sizeable .042 points below his career average, which means he’s been very lucky on balls in play. Couple that with an unsustainable 84% left on base percentage and you have a perfect storm for an ugly regression.
So we know he’s probably going to be giving up a lot more runs over the rest of the year. Add to it the high amount of variance that comes with a 3.82 BB/9 rate, his worst since joining the Nats, and Gio is already out of the conversation for cash games. Not that we need kindle for that fire, but his first pitch strike percentage in 2016 was the worst it’s been in his tenure in Washington at 57.5%; this year, it’s gone from bad to much worse at 53.6%. At best you are throwing stones into a minefield if you pay $9,100 for Gonzalez in a cash game.
Is There a Good Time to Play Gio Gonzalez?
What about tournaments? We are already sour on that FanDuel price from Wednesday night. Gio has the kind of variance you look for in tournament pitchers, but that price really handcuffs your ability to pay for bats. Looking at his strikeout rate just makes things worse. 8.41 K/9 is still above average, but you need elite Ks to offset that walk rate, and Gio is going backwards with another worst from his time in Washington. He is also showing a small tick down in the amount of swings he get at pitches outside of the zone and his swinging strike percentage.
Everything about Gio screams decline and there’s no reason you should be throwing money at the tire fire he is set to become.
I am BEARISH on Gio Gonzalez.
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