April 17, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
The highest K/9 in the National League (11.59 K/9) and the second-highest in all of baseball (to the Tigers' Max Scherzer's 11.70 K/9). The second-lowest ERA in baseball (2.04 ERA the Braves' Brandon Beachy's 1.87). The lowest FIP (1.94) and fourth lowest xFIP (2.72). The second highest fWAR (tied with the Brewers' Zack Greinke at +2.4 fWAR) behind only the Tigers' Justin Verlander's +3.0 fWAR. Just 25 walks in 61.2 IP (3.65 BB/9 down from a career 4.36 BB/9). Washington Nationals' left-hander is just what Nats' GM Mike Rizzo expected, as Rizzo reminded everyone recently on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show. "If you look back at what I did say about him," Rizzo told hosts Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier, "I said we really like the age of [Gonzalez], the durability of the pitcher and I did say he's was an All-Star at 25-years-old, and I did say if he could curtail his walks just a bit and get to that 3.5 K/9 instead of 4.0 K/9 he would go from a 25-year-old All-Star to an elite starter."
Through 10 starts, the 26-year-old former Oakland A's lefty has been exactly what the Nationals hoped he would be. After Gonzalez beat Atlanta last time out, striking out 10 in 7.0 IP while holding the Braves to two runs on one hit and three walks last Sunday on ESPN, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson said Gonzalez has actually been better than he thought he would be. "'No, he's better than I expected,'" the 69-year-old manager told reporters, "I knew he was a good pitcher. I knew he made the All-Star team with Oakland. But I thought he was a little wilder.'" The Nationals' no.2 has won five straight starts and seven of the last eight. Gonzalez squares off against Braves' right-hander Tommy Hanson this afternoon, one week after he outdueled Brandon Beachy to earn his seventh win of 2012.
• Here's the lineup that will take the field behind Gio and try to support the left-hander at the plate (via MLB.com's Bill Ladson on Twitter (@washingnats):