Nationals Game 3 starter Gio Gonzalez is tough, but there are cracks
By Cary Osborne
Washington Nationals’ Game 3 starter Gio Gonzalez has shut down the Dodgers in each of his last two meetings — 14 innings, one earned run. And we know about the Dodgers’ struggles against left-handed pitching.
But the Washington left-hander is not invincible, even if left-handed batters hit just one home run against him all year and OPSed .633 against him, compared to right-handers and their .756 OPS.
Atlanta got to Gonzalez pretty good on September 6, touching him up for eight hits and six earned runs. The Braves alternated left-handed and right-handed hitters in the first six spots in the lineup, and lefties went 6 for 9 against Gonzalez in that game.
However, in the 10 games in which Gonzalez allowed four runs or more, nine of the lineups he faced were predominantly right-handed.
There are three keys for Dodger hitters in this matchup, though: get ahead in the count, get on the fastball and get some runs early.
Gonzalez had a 5.34 ERA in the first three innings. Batters who had the count advantage hit .323/.462/.547 against him.
And according to Brooks Baseball, batters had success against his fastball — hitting .291 against his four-seamer and two-seamer. Batters slugged .519 against his four-seamer — a pitch he threw 29.6 percent of the time. Left-handers hit .256 and slugged .442 against the four-seamer this season.
It’s a pitch he had a lot of success with between 2011 and 2015 — hitting a high of .221 in that time from in 2013.
Gonzalez’ best pitch this year (and has been his entire career) is his curveball, which Brooks has batters hitting .189 and slugging .273 against this year.
Down the stretch, Gonzalez wasn’t sharp. He started five games in September and allowed 19 earned runs in 23 innings with a 1.78 WHIP. He last pitched September 28, allowing three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings to Arizona. He threw 100 pitches in the game.
Daniel Brim has more on Gonzalez at Dodgers Digest.