Gio Gonzalez's last start, this past Friday night in Kansas City, lasted all of 3 1/3 IP in which the 27-year-old left-hander struggled to find his arm slot and surrendered 10 hits, three walks and seven runs. Gonzalez is now (0-3) in seven starts after the All-Star Break in which he's posted a 5.94 ERA. In 36 1/3 IP in the second "half", Gonzalez has 17 walks (4.21 BB/9) and 42 Ks (10.40 K/9). Opposing hitters have a .318/.395/.503 line against the Nationals' 2012 21-game winning lefty over the last seven outings after Gonzalez held the opposition to a .205/.286/.341 through the first 19 starts and 118 2/3 innings pitched of the 2013 campaign.
In three August starts before the Royals knocked him around, the Nats' starter was turning things around. Gonzalez had a 2.00 ERA over 18 IP, and he held hitters to a .238/.324/.286 line. But things went bad quickly in Kauffman Stadium. Eric Hosmer and Justin Maxwell homered off Gonzalez in the first. The Royals connected for five hits and three runs in the second and before he left the game in the fourth, the Nats' starter surrendered a single, walk and RBI hit that made it an 8-7 game after the Nationals had rallied from a 6-1 deficit to take an 8-6 lead in the top of the inning.
Gonzalez told reporters, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore that Nats' pitching coach Steve McCatty told him during a visit that he had to try to "'Keep the ball down. Get your arm on top.'" Gonzalez told McCatty, "'Trust me. I’m trying to get that arm up.'" He wasn't able to figure things out, however. Tanner Roark spared the Nationals' bullpen that night though, throwing 4 2/3 scoreless in what ended up an 11-10 win. The two home runs Gonzalez allowed last time out were the only ones Gonzalez has allowed in 21 1/3 IP so far this month, but on the year, he's allowed 16 (0.93 HR/9) in 155 IP after giving up just nine home runs (0.41 HR/9) in 199 1/3 IP last season.
Can Gonzalez bounce back from the rough outing against the Royals and help the Nationals take six straight at home against the Marlins this season?
• Nationals' Thursday Night Lineup:
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 29, 2013