Davey Johnson's seen a lot in his career in baseball, but even he admitted recently that 26-year-old left-hander Gio Gonzalez is unique. "He's just always happy," Johnson said, "When I don't feel like smiling, I've got to smile when he's around. He's kind of a character. I know guys that eat pancakes on the day that they pitch, but I've never met one who had a haircut every time he pitched. But he's got a tremendous arm and he's only going to get better too. As he gets a little better command on his fastball, he's got good command, but as he gets better with it, it's even more lights out." Mike Rizzo said much the same when he acquired the left-hander from Oakland this past winter, predicting in an interview with ESPN980's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan this past April that if Gonzalez, "... could ever get his walk totals to that 3.5 BB/9-type of guy he goes from a really, really good starter to one of the elite left-handed starters in the game."
After walking 92 (4.13 BB/9) in 200.2 IP in 2010 and 91 (4.05 BB/9) in 202.0 IP in 2011, Gonzalez has cut the walks down significantly so far this season, giving up 60 (3.93 BB/9) in 159.1 iP, while increasing his strikeouts rates from 7.67 K/9 in 2010, 8.78 K/9 in '11 to 9.49 K/9 this year. In his first 26 starts, Gonzalez is (16-7) with a 3.28 ERA and 2.87 FIP. 115 starts into his major league career, Gonzalez faces the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time tonight.
Gonzalez is (3-2) in five August starts with eight walks (2.04 BB/9) and 31 Ks (7.90 K/9) in 35.1 IP over which he's put up a 3.31 ERA and a 2.93 FIP. Last time out, the Nats' lefty gave up five hits and three runs in 6.0 IP in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies, snapping a streak of three-straight wins. Gonzalez goes for his career high 17th win tonight in the nation's capital...
• Here's the lineup that will take the field behind Gio Gonzalez against the Cardinals:
— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) August 31, 2012
#Nationals lineup vs. STL - Werth 9, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Morse 7, Desmond 6, Espinosa 4, Suzuki 2, G. Gonzalez 1