Gio Gonzalez was a first round draft pick in 2004, so his road to fantasy relevance has been slow to develop.  Finally, at 24 years old (he’ll turn 25 in September), he’s achieved it, putting up a solid 2010 season with these stats:

10 Wins
141.0 Innings
3.51 ERA
1.32 WHIP
114 Strikeouts (7.3 K/9)
62 Walks (4.0 BB/9)
.287 BABIP

The question is whether Gonzalez is a pitcher worth owning, or whether his success has been an aberration.

The strikeouts are actually lower than you would expect. For his minor league career (676.1 innings), he posted a K/9 of 10.3.  That includes a 9.7 K/9 in 184 innings at Triple-A between 2008 and 2009.

He also had 132.2 innings in the Major Leagues in ‘08 and ‘09, posting a K/9 of 9.7.  While you would perhaps expect a little bit of regression, a fall of nearly two-and-a-half strikeouts per nine innings seems a bit extreme. 

In his 23 starts this season, he’s struck out at least seven batters just four times. He’s still throwing hard (averaging 91.9 mph on his fastball this season) and with his track record, you would think an improvement could come.

It’s not like he has been overly lucky (his strand rate is also at 75.9 percent), but if his BABIP should regress, an improvement in strikeouts will help to offset that.

He’s not a big-time ground-ball pitcher, but he has done a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark. His HR/9 is at 0.6 and his HR/FB is at 7.0 percent.  His home ballpark certainly helps in that regard.

In fact, looking at his home/road split helps tells an interesting story:

  • Home: 6-3, 2.94 ERA over 70.1 innings (49 Ks)
  • Away: 4-4, 4.08 ERA over 70.2 innings (65 Ks)

The odd thing is, it’s been his luck on the road that’s been costly, where he is sporting a .338 BABIP.  On the flip side, his BABIP at home has been .236.

You can say that he pitches to the ballpark, but that’s a lot of luck to attribute to that.  Then again, baseball does tend to be a game that evens itself out, so we shouldn’t read too much into this right now. Just something to monitor moving forward.

The major concern is his walks, which have always plagued him. He had a BB/9 of 4.0 in the minors, so the fact that he’s struggled throwing strikes, at times, should come as no surprise.  Unfortunately, that makes him a little sporadic, and hard to trust.

It’s impossible to ignore what he’s done this season, and he certainly is a usable option in all formats.  Tread carefully, but the numbers are there and the potential for more strikeouts seems great.

That’s certainly worth rolling the dice on.

What are your thoughts Gonzalez?  Would you like to own him moving forward?  Why or why not?


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