Over his last three starts, Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez has allowed 25 hits and 18 runs, all earned, in 15 ⅔ innings pitched (10.34 ERA), over which opposing hitters have a combined .357/.395/.643 line.
Gonzalez allowed just 14 runs total (10 earned) in 48 ⅓ innings pitched over his first eight starts this season (1.86 ERA), while holding opposing hitters to a .222/.277/.289 line in those outings, over which he was 3-1 with the Nationals 5-3.
After losing each of his last three starts, however, the 30-year-old lefty is now (3-4) on the year heading into tonight's series finale with the White Sox in Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, with a 3.94 ERA, a 3.73 FIP, 17 walks (2.39 BB/9), 61 Ks (8.58 K/9) and a .252/.310/.388 line against in 64 IP.
Nats' skipper Dusty Baker told reporters after Gonzalez gave up nine hits and five runs in six innings against Cincinnati last time out that the Nationals needed the left-hander to return to his early-season form.
"We've just got to go back to the drawing board and try to find a way for Gio to get it together," Baker said.
"We need Gio. We need Gio that was in the month of April more than anything. [Pitching coach] Mike [Maddux] and him are working on things and he's got to continue to work.
"When things aren't going too good you've got to work a little harder and concentrate a little better."
The positives from that outing? Gonzalez gave up four of the five runs he allowed in a long, 31-pitch second, then settled in after that, allowing just one run on two hits over the next four innings.
"After the [second] inning, I just decided, ‘You know what? Here you go. I’m going to rear back and just throw,’" Gonzalez told reporters, including Washington Post writer James Wagner.
"'Here it is. I’m not going to try to just nitpick the corner. I’m going to come at you, and here you go.'"
Will he maintain that approach tonight in Chicago? Will Gonzalez lead the Nationals to a fourth straight win overall? If the weather allows it, we'll find out at 8:10 PM EDT.
Here's the Nationals' lineup for the series finale with the White Sox: