Over his last seven starts, Gio Gonzalez is (0-6) with an 8.44 ERA, 15 walks, 48 Ks and a .320/.394/.510 line against over 37 ⅓ innings pitched. His last win was in a May 18th start vs the New York Mets.
It's gotten bad enough for the left-hander that Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker was asked after Gonzalez's last turn in the rotation, a three-inning outing in which he allowed six hits and six earned runs, if he would get the ball again next time around?
"You're asking me questions I can't answer right now," Baker said, "but I mean, yeah, as of right now, yeah, he's going to make his next start."
In a June 3rd start in Cincinnati opposite the same Reds he'll face tonight, Gonzalez gave up nine hits and five runs in six innings of work in a 7-2 loss. Four of the five runs he allowed came in a 31-pitch second inning.
"We need him to break this streak that he's on," Baker said, after what was Gonzalez's third straight loss at that point.
"He settled in, but he's had a hard time staying out of that crooked-number inning, which hurt him. It was almost the deficit that they won by, but they were swinging the bats which we knew that coming in here, because they've got a pretty good offense. They can hit the ball out of the ballpark, especially in this ballpark, so we've just got find a way to keep them in the park and make better pitches."
In four starts since he last faced the Reds, Gonzalez has a 7.06 ERA in 21 ⅔ innings pitched.
So what if Stephen Strasburg comes off the DL... and Lucas Giolito impresses... is there any chance Gonzalez could be out of the rotation if his struggles continue?
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked about Gonzalez's struggles and the possibility of him losing his spot in the rotation in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies on Wednesday.
"We're going to go with our best twenty-five to help us win baseball games," Rizzo said when asked how things might shake out once everyone's available.
"I think Gio is included in that group of best twenty-five. I've got all the confidence in the world in Gio. He's got great stuff. He's going through a rough patch right now, like you said, it may be the roughest patch in his career right now, but the peripherals are good with Gio, the velocity is where it's supposed to be, the spin-rate on his breaking stuff is where it's supposed to be.
"He needs to be more consistent with his command and his delivery, and maximize his pitches better, but this is a proven, veteran, really good starter, who's gotten Cy Young votes in the past and still has really, really good stuff and really is in the prime of his career age-wise.
"So we'll go with our best twenty-five and Gio, I think, is one of our best twenty-five and we're all here to win, we know this is a performance business.
"The front office wants to win as much as the fans do, and we're going to put our best foot forward to help us do that."
With a four-game win streak on the line, the Nationals are sending Gonzalez out against the Reds tonight.
Here's the lineup that will back the southpaw up in the series opener with Cincinnati in D.C.: