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Don’t Blame it on Gio: Gonzalez Finding His Groove

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That's good, Gio.
That's good, Gio.

Do a search of "Bad Gio" on AN, and you get...well, you get this:

Search and tags are temporarily unavailable.

We should have them back online soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Well, hell.

Anyways, I'd imagine it is a high number.  I dare you to prove me wrong.  Judging by recent performance, the young left-hander appears determined to change his evil ways, and he gets another chance to prove it this afternoon against the O's.

Fresh off a start where he allowed the Giants zero runs on two hits in eight sparkling innings, Gonzalez has pitched into the seventh frame in all but one of his five starts in May, and has given up more than three runs in only one of them. That came three outings ago against Texas when the bad version of Gio re-emerged; a side of him not seen since two consecutive poor starts in April.

So what gives?  Here's the boss' take:

"[He's] commanding the strike zone and using his changeup more also," said manager Bob Geren. "His percentage of the pitches has changed a little bit, because he's using more pitches and his strike percentage has been up."

Clearly the change has been in the change…up, as MLB’s Tim Britton further explains:

 

The stats back Geren up. In 2010, Gonzalez is throwing more changeups than last season and, more importantly, has created a larger differential between his fastball and change. Last season, he averaged only a 7.5 mph difference between the two; this season, it's up to 9.5.

 

After struggling with some high pitch counts and short outings early in the season, Gonzalez didn't have that problem on Saturday, requiring only 95 pitches to record 24 outs. He walked only one in holding the opposition to four hits or fewer for the fourth time in five May starts. Opponents are batting just .179 off of the left-hander this month.

 

Before coming to Oakland in the Nick Swisher trade two days after New Year's 2008, and beating out Trevor Cahill this spring for the fifth spot in the rotation, Gonzalez spent his career as the "other guy"; a mere plaything for the Phillies and White Sox.  He was the player to be named later in a trade the sent him from Chicago to Philadelphia (with the Sox getting Jim Thome in the deal), and almost exactly a year later, the Phillies shipped him back to Chicago as part of the Gavin Floyd-for-Freddy Garcia swap.

 

He never appeared in a game for either team.

 

Gio finally stepped onto a big-league diamond on August 6, 2008, when he went six so-so innings for the A’s in a 5-1 loss to Toronto. Since then it’s been mostly Jekyll-and-Hyde for Gonzalez, as suggested ever-so-eloquently by our own Ovale Fan:

 

I’m not sure he will ever put up great season stats because there is no middle ground with him. He is either stunningly good or fucking terrible, never in between.

 

(So, the search function decided to work. Sue me.)

 

Well, half-good, half-bad is better than all bad, right dan?

 

Hey, I'll take a guy like Gio over a guy who's consistently bad/mediocre, but put up the same season line. There’s a lot of potential in Gio, assuming he can shed the "bad Gio".

 

From the looks of it, Gonzalez appears to be on the right path to realizing his potential, and leaving the bad to someone else.

 

Like, you know, our hitters.