|Gonzalez Could Start All-Star Game||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on June 05, 2012
Lost in the shuffle of several marquee free agent signings this offseason, the Washington Nationals made a big splash by acquiring talented lefty starter Gio Gonzalez.
Though the Nationals parted ways with four prospects in exchange, the team felt confident that it had found the front-end starter it coveted to pair with young phenom Stephen Strasburg.
Gonzalez is 7-1 with 2.04 ERA, second to only Brandon Beachy of the Atlanta Braves (1.87). He's tied for second in the NL in wins and trails Phillies starter Cole Hamels by just one strikeout for the league lead (80).
Gonzalez also is second in the NL behind San Francisco Giants hurler Matt Cain with a 0.94 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). Gonzalez's 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings lead the league.
Success is nothing new to Gonzalez, who earned his first All-Star appearance in 2011 with the Oakland Athletics. He finished the year 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA on a team that finished just 74-88.
The Nationals have been one of the feel-good stories of 2012 thus far, and Gonzalez has been a major factor in their early season run. Washington sits atop the NL East, a division in which all five teams are above .500.
In the 10 games Gonzalez has started, the Nats are 9-1. His only loss came during a game in which the Nationals got shut out 2-0. It certainly has helped that Washington has averaged 4.4 runs per game in Gonzalez's starts.
With Gonzalez and Strasburg atop the rotation, the Nationals have a legitimate chance to make a summer run. It may be tough since many of the players on the roster have never experienced this kind of success, but they are led by a manager in Davey Johnson who has been there before.
As far as the All-Star Game is concerned, Gonzalez can cement his spot on the roster with another string of strong starts. But in order to start the game, he will have to maintain his dominant pace.
The aforementioned Strasburg, Hamels, Cain and Beachy are all in consideration for an All-Star spot. Of these, Hamels would appear to be the early favorite to be named the starter. He's 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA and is once again leading the league in strikeouts.
New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey may also be in the conversation to start the mid-summer classic. Dickey recently hurled a complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals to bring his record to 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA.
Lance Lynn of the Cardinals and Chris Capuano of the Los Angeles Dodgers have also gotten off to fast starts these first two months.
There are still about six weeks until the All-Star Game, so each of these candidates should make at least eight to 10 more starts. With continued success and run support, Gonzalez may see his name penciled into the NL's starting pitcher slot on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium.