Gonzalez is is 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP
In Gio Gonzalez, the Washington Nationals have a frontline starter who can carry the team now that Stephen Strasburg is shutdown for the season. With Tommy Milone and Derek Norris, the Oakland A’s have a reliable left-handed starting pitcher and a young catcher who is proficient at the plate and behind the dish. The five-player trade that was executed by the A’s and Nationals last December has been mutually beneficial as the aforementioned names are contributing to their respective team’s run to the postseason.
On December 23, 2011, the A’s sent Gonzalez to Washington for Milone, Norris and minor league pitchers A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock. Gonzalez, who will turn 27 on September 19, was the centerpiece of the deal. He is 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and a .206 opponent’s batting average this season. In 29 starts and 181.1 innings, Gonzalez has allowed 136 hits while striking out 191 and walking 68.
Now that the Nationals have sidelined Strasburg because of a team-imposed innings limit, the team is hopeful that Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 3.81 ERA), Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23 ERA) and Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.85 ERA) can provide solid starts through October. Washington has received a lift from left-hander John Lannan, who is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA since rejoining the club. Over his last 10 starts, Gonzalez is 7-2 with a 2.30 ERA.
While the Nationals are 89-54 and coasting to the National League East title, the A’s are 82-61 and own the top wild card spot in the American League. The 25-year-old Milone has emerged as a key part of an Oakland rotation that has carried the club all season.
He is 12-10 with a 3.90 ERA in 27 starts. His presence has allowed the A’s to remain in control of the wild card even after Bartolo Colon was suspended for the rest of the season after testing positive for illegal PEDs and and Brandon McCarthy was sidelined when he was hit in the head with a line drive.
The A’s are so confident in Norris’ abilities that they traded Kurt Suzuki to Washington earlier this summer. The 23-year-old Norris, who hits right-handed, is batting just .198 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 167 at-bats, but Oakland likes his catching skills and his power potential. He slugged 20 home runs at Double-A Harrisburg last year while still with the Nationals.
Norris is currently sharing catching duties with surprising backup George Kottaras, who has five home runs in 51 at-bats since joining the A’s from Milwaukee.