Last night was the latest example of the poor start to Michael Gonzalez’s 2011 season.
He has pitched 5.1 innings, and allowed 9 hits, 2 hr's, 4 bb's, with 4 k's. His era is 13.50.
In his 7 outings, he has allowed an earned run 6 times. That level of performance is not acceptable for any reliever. Certainly not acceptable for a guy that was signed to significant money (2yrs $12M), and cost the O’s a 2nd round draft-pick in the 2010 draft.
That decision (the contract, and the surrendering of the pick) has come and gone though, and I don’t think should be part of the current evaluation of Gonzalez. Hypocritically perhaps, I do think we should be looking historically of what Gonzalez has accomplished when we evaluate what he brings to the table.
For his career, he has now pitched 310.2 Major League innings, allowed 240 hits, 147 bb's, with 365 k's, a .639 OPS against, and a 2.87 career era. It is certainly fair to look at him and say his performance to date this year has been brutal. It is certainly fair to say that prior to last night, his mechanics have been a mess. That said, if you look at the hits he has allowed per IP in his career, and you look at the K’s per IP he has achieved in his career; there should be no doubting of his talent.
It is evident that his mechanics (best illustrated through the elevated walks he has always had), has been what has prevented him from becoming truly elite. It should also be evident that his career totals matter more than a poor 5 innings here in April. I think it was a tough situation for Gonzalez last night. He had not been used for a week, and was put into a high-leverage situation. It does not excuse his performance, but Showalter’s decisions (not using him for the week, bringing him in there) helped contribute to the result.
Nobody can be happy with what they have seen from Gonzalez so far, but there is plenty of reason to believe he will improve and help the O’s this year.
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