Oct 16, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 28
How acquired: Trade from Athletics with RHP Robert Gilliam for LHP Tom Milone, RHP Brad Peacock, RHP A.J. Cole and C Derek Norris, Dec. 2011
MLB service time: 4 years, 162 days
2013 salary+bonuses: $6.25 million
Contract status: Signed for $8.5 million in 2014, $11 million in 2015, $12 million in 2016, $12 million club option (or $500,000 buyout) in 2017, $12 million player option (guaranteed if 180 IP in ’17) in 2018, free agent in 2019
2013 Stats: 32 GS, 195.2 IP, 169 H, 79 R, 73 ER, 17 HR, 76 BB, 192 K, 1.252 WHIP, 11-8, 3.36 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 3.1 WAR
Quotable: “I think what you’ve seen from Gio over the last two months is more what we expect from him,” Zimmerman said. “And I’m sure what he expects from himself.” — Ryan Zimmerman on July 10, after Gonzalez completed a 13-game stretch with a 2.18 ERA.
2013 analysis: A 21-game winner and Cy Young Award finalist in 2012, Gonzalez entered his second season in Washington amid a cloud of distraction, his name having been among those published in the initial Biogenesis report. The left-hander maintained his innocence all along and insisted he had never taken any performance enhancing drugs, and by midseason he was officially cleared of any wrongdoing by MLB.
If there were any substantial fears about Gonzalez’s ability to pitch with that story looming over his head, he quickly put them to rest. He dominated his first two starts of the season and entered the All-Star break with a 7-3 record and 3.03 ERA.
There were a couple of bumps during the second half, including a disastrous, 10-run outing in Detroit on July 31, but Gonzalez finished strong and came within a few inches of a no-hitter Sept. 9 in New York. His final numbers weren’t quite as good as his 2012 stats, but they were plenty good enough. Gonzalez ranked 10th in the NL in fewest hits allowed per nine innings and most strikeouts recorded per nine innings.
2014 outlook: There shouldn’t be any significant questions surrounding Gonzalez entering 2014. He has now put together four consecutive seasons in which he has made at least 32 starts, totaled at least 195 innings, recorded at least 192 strikeouts and posted ERAs ranging from 2.89 to 3.36.
Gonzalez will also be a bit on the erratic side, likely to have one unsightly start every five or six times he takes the mound. But he’s also good for multiple dominant starts during those same stretches, so the Nationals will continue to happily take the occasional bad with the more-regular good.
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