Mets Should Have Interest In Gio Gonzalez
The New York Mets have to effectively rebuild much of their pitching staff. Put another way, they need to find a number of quality innings from their pitching staff. That’s why they should be considering Gio Gonzalez.
Getting the obvious out of the way, Gonzalez is not an answer in the rotation. In fact, he hasn’t really been that since the first half of the 2018 season.
Yes, Gonzalez did pitch effectively for the Milwaukee Brewers starting late in that 2018 season. However, they used him as a roughly four to five inning starter. This year he wasn’t even that for the White Sox.
Gonzalez lasted four starts before being moved to the bullpen. With his starting the year with a 6.00 ERA and being unable to pitch at least 5.0 innings at least once, he forced the White Sox hands. In some ways, they did him a favor.
After getting moved to the bullpen, Gonzalez made seven appearances pitching to a 2.53 ERA with him striking out nearly a batter over 10.2 innings. During this stretch, his innings pitched ranged from 0.1 to 3.2 innings.
Sure, it wasn’t all perfect with Gonzalez having a paltry 1.11 K/BB ratio. He also sputtered at the end allowing runs in two out of his last three appearances. Still, when you look at the whole picture, he’s an enticing bullpen option.
One major reason why is the three batter rule. With that rule, it is increasingly difficult to carry LOOGYS. Still, when you have a division with Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Juan Soto, you need left-handed relievers who can get big left handed bats out.
In his career, Gonzalez has dominated left-handed batters limiting them to a .228/.299/.346 batting line. He has also more than held his own against right-handed batters limiting them to a .243/.325/.374 batting line.
Now, his splits against right-handed batters have fallen off since his top 10 Cy Young finish in 2017, he did limit right-handed batters to a .212 batting average since being moved to the bullpen.
One reason why is Gonzalez still has good stuff. According to Baseball Savant, Gonzalez posted terrific exit velocity and whiff% numbers. His hard hit percentage and curve spin were also quite indicative of what you expect to see from a strong reliever.
On the subject of Lugo, we’ve seen the immense value in having a multiple inning reliever in the bullpen. Lugo’s ability to do both this and close makes him a Swiss Army knife. It’d be great for the Mets to add a left-handed compliment. That’s what Gonzalez could be.
In some ways, Gonzalez could be akin to what the Mets got from Darren Oliver in 2006. In many ways, Gonzalez and Oliver compare favorably.
Both pitchers are fastball/curveball pitchers at their core. They both had control issues throughout their career. Both starting working out of the bullpen in their age 33 seasons.
The question for Gonzalez if he’ll accept the role in the bullpen to lengthen his career like Oliver did. When that happened, Oliver both prolonged his career and helped the Mets win the division.
Gonzalez may have that chance now. He could be the left-handed compliment to Lugo. He could be a key reliever. He could very well be a key piece to a team popping champagne at the end of the 2021 season.