FishStripes: The Washington Nationals have been led by their stellar pitching staff. Gio Gonzalez has been among the team's best. He has improved since moving to the National League. Can he keep it up in the second half?
Federal Baseball: I went back and looked (when the Nats signed him of course, and again today), since Gio's still kind of new to us in D.C. this year obviously, and he's been strong after the All-Star Break in each of the last two seasons, which are his only two full seasons in the majors. Though he gave up a run and a 1/2 more last year in the second-half, he was actually better in the second-half of the 2010 campaign statistically than he had been in a strong first half. But this is a bit of a new Gio too. The Nationals said the one thing they wanted him to cut down on this year was the walks, thinking that his league-leading walk total in 2011 was the only thing keeping him from being an elite starter and he's gone from a pitcher who's walked 4.32 BB/9 in his career to one who's walked just 42 (3.72 BB/9) in 101.2 IP. He's striking more batters out (10.45 K/9 to a 8.89 K/9 career average), has the NL's 12th-lowest ERA (2.92), the third-lowest FIP (2.52) and fourth-lowest xFIP (3.06). He's basically a second, left-handed ace behind Stephen Strasburg. The Nats acquired him in part because he's proven to be durable so far during his career, and I'm sure the hope is that the prospect of playing for a first postseason berth after four years in Oakland in which the A's finished as high as second but never made it to the playoffs is going to be a real motivating factor going forward, especially with Strasburg most likely unavailable late this year.