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Gio González

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Giovany Aramis González

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Biographical Information[edit]

Left-handed pitcher Gio González was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was the 38th player selected, in the supplemental first round and was signed by scout Jose Ortega.

González was let go by his high school, Monsignor Pace, when they were ranked #1 in the nation late in 2004. He had transferred to the school prior to his senior year and became the team's star hurler. His mother, Yolanda, got into an argument with the coach, Tom Duffin, about the limited playing time for Gio's younger brother, Max. After that conflict, both brothers were dismissed from the team.

He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies following the 2005 season as part of a trade that brought Jim Thome to the White Sox. A little over a year later, he returned to Chicago in a deal that sent Freddy Garcia to the Phillies.

The southpaw made 12 starts between the Bristol White Sox and Kannapolis Intimidators in his first year of professional baseball. He surrendered just one home run and fanned 63 opponents. He won 5 games with a 1.87 ERA for Kannapolis in 2005, and was promoted to the Winston-Salem Warthogs, where he tacked on 8 more wins. Gonzalez struggled with control during his time with the Reading Phillies in 2006. He walked 81 opponents in 154 1/3 innings pitched, but was still awarded a spot in the 2006 Futures Game.

The Miami, FL native's return to the White Sox organization was a success. Prior to the 2007 season, Baseball America ranked Gonzalez the third best prospect in Chicago's system. He earned a 9-7 record and a 3.18 ERA with the Birmingham Barons that year. In 150 innings, Gonzalez struck out 185 batters, gave up just 116 hits, and lowered his walk total to 57. He was named a Southern League All-Star. Gonzalez had averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in four minor league seasons at that point.

In January of 2008, González was traded again, this time to the Oakland Athletics with Fautino De Los Santos and Ryan Sweeney in return for Nick Swisher. He made his major league debut for the Athletics on August 6, 2008, in a losing start against the Toronto Blue Jays. He was only 1-4, 7.68 in 10 games in his first taste of the big leagues, but would improve steadily from thereon.

Gonzalez spent his first extended time in the majors with the Athletics in 2009, appearing in 20 games - 17 of them starts - with a record of 6-7, 5.75; he struck out 108 batters in 98 2/3 innings, displaying the kind of electric stuff that had made scouts drool since his debut as a professional. In 2010, he took a huge step forward with a record of 15-9, 3.23 in 33 starts and pitching over 200 innings. He was 8th in the American League in ERA (between CC Sabathia and Jon Lester), tied for 10th in wins and second in walks (92, one behind C.J. Wilson).

By now considered the ace of Oakland's staff, he was named to the All-Star team in 2011 when he almost repeated his previous season. In spite of playing in front of a struggling team, he went 16-12, 3.12 in 32 games, and struck out a career-high 197 batters over 202 innings. He did lead the AL in walks with 91, however. He was also among the league leaders in ERA (10th), wins (tied for 4th behind Justin Verlander, Sabathia and Jered Weaver) and strikeouts (9th, between Weaver and Dan Haren). In the 2011 All-Star Game, Gio relieved Alexi Ogando in the 8th with a 5-1 deficit for the AL. He struck out the only batter he faced, pinch-hitter Jay Bruce. The AL failed to rally in the 9th and lost.

The Athletics were in a rebuilding mode, though, and were willing to deal some of their good young pitching in return for a haul of young players. Gonzalez was ardently pursued by a number of teams, but it was the Washington Nationals who won the sweepstakes for the young star on December 22nd, giving up four top prospects in return - Ps Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and A.J. Cole and C Derek Norris. On January 15, 2012, the Nats announced that they had signed Gonzalez to a five-year deal wirth $42-million, with two additional option years. He got off to an excellent start with his new team and in May of 2012 was named the National League Pitcher of the Month, succeeding teammate Stephen Strasburg, who had won the honor in April. He had gone 5-0, 2.25 during the month while striking out 45 in 32 innings. He was named to the All-Star team for the second straight year. On August 8th, he pitched a complete game over the Houston Astros for his 14th win of the season while also hitting his first career homer, a two-run shot off Armando Galarraga that put the Nats ahead to stay in the 2nd inning, on their way to a 4-3 win. It was the first time he had pitched 9 innings in his career, as his other complete game, with Oakland in 2010, had come in an 8-inning loss. On August 13th, he picked up his 15th win of the season in beating the San Francisco Giants, 14-2; that tied the Nationals' team record for most wins in a season. His 17th win on August 31st came when he threw his first career shutout, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-0. On September 22nd, he defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-4, to become the major leagues' first twenty-game winner. He was the first pitcher to reach that milestone in Nationals' history, and matched the franchise record for wins, set by Ross Grimsley with the Montreal Expos in 1978. He made his first postseason starts that year, starting twice against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series, but did not have a decision as he gave up 5 runs in 10 innings.

On April 25, 2013, he gave up only one hit over 8 innings in beating the Cincinnati Reds, 8-1, with Rafael Soriano adding a hitless 9th inning for a combined one-hitter. Jordan Zimmermann repeated the feat the next day, pitching a complete game one-hitter, 1-0, over the Reds. Throughout that season, Gonzalez's name was linked to the Biogenesis Laboratories scandal, but when MLB's investigation was completed and suspensions were handed out to 13 players on August 5th, he was not linked to any wrongdoing. On September 9th, Gio pitched a complete game one-hitter in defeating the New York Mets, 9-0, backed by five homers from his teammates at Citi Field. The only hit was a soft single by PH Zach Lutz in the 7th that landed on the first base foul line, inches away from being a harmless foul ball. His record was only 11-8 at the end of the year but his 3.36 ERA in 32 starts was quite good, even if it was his highest in four seasons. He also struck out 192 batters in 195 2/3 innings.

In 2014, Gonzalez started the season for the second straight year by hitting a homer in his first start; in 2013, he had connected off Kevin Slowey of the Miami Marlins on April 3rd, and this season he did it off Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets on April 2nd. He was the winner both years, 3-0 in 2013 and 5-1 in 2014. He went 10-10, 3.57 that season, being limited to 27 starts and 158 2/3 innings. In 2015 and 2016, he had two other middling seasons, pitching around .500 ball without showing the dominating form he had displayed in his first few seasons. He was 11-8, 3.79 the first year and 11-11, 4.57 the second. Both years, he failed to reach even 180 innings, as his high totals of both walks and strikeouts kept him from pitching deep into games. During that stretch he appeared twice more in the postseason, making a start each in the 2014 and 2016 Division Series, again without being involved in the decision in either instance. The Nationals lost both series, as they had done in 2012 as well.

On July 31, 2017, he took a no-hitter into the 9th inning in a start against the Miami Marlins. Dee Gordon led off the 9th with a clean single to break up the bid and Sean Doolittle then came in to record the final three outs, but Gio received credit for the 1-0 win. It was a true bnounce-back season for Gio, as he lowered his ERA to 2.96, good for 5th in the National League, and went 15-9 while pitching 201 innings and striking out 188. He was still walking too many batters, a league-leading 79, but he was giving his team a lot of quality innings on their way to a division title. A lot was expected of the Nationals as they headed into the Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, as many observers this was the year they would finally get over the first-round humnp, but alas, it was another quick exit, Gio started Games 2 and 5 and did not manage to put up a dominant effort in either game, allowing three runs in 5 and 3 innings respectively. Washington won the first game, and had managed to take a lead in the second after his departure, but an uncharacteristic collapse by Max Scherzer in a rare relief role once again cost them the series.

The Nationals were again expected to finish first in the NL East in 2018, but it wasn't to be. Injuries and inconsistent performances marred their season, and they were quickly outdistanced by tow upstart teams, the Atlanta Braves and Phillies. Gio was one of the players turning in a sub-par performance, as he was 7-11, 4.57 in 27 starts. The Nationals decided to throw in the towel in late August, and on August 31st, he was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for two minor leaguers. In his first start for his new team on September 8th, he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants, allowing just 3 hits and walk while striking out 7, to lead Milwaukee to a 4-3 win. He went 3-0, 2.13 in 5 starts for the Brewers, to finish with a record of 10-11, 4.21. In the postseason, he started two games in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game 1 on October 12th, he went just 2 innings, giving up a solo homer to Manny Machado, before giving way to Brandon Woodruff as part of Milwaukee' unconventional approach to handling its pitching staff during the entire postseason. It wasn't much different in Game 4 on October 16th, as after he struggled in the 1st, giving up a run, he was replaced by Freddy Peralta as soon as he gave up a scratch hit to lead-off hitter Yasiel Puig in the 2nd, on which he injured his ankle.

He became a free agent after the 2018 season, and while there were rumors that the Brewers were interested in bringing him back, it never happened. Finally, on March 18, 2019, it was the New York Yankees who let it be known that they had offered him a minor league deal, conditional on his passing a physical exam. The Yankees had two starting pitchers injured to start the season, in Luis Severino and CC Sabathia, but given the lateness of Gio's signing, he would not be available to help out in the immediate. Instead, he was seen as an insurance policy were either of the two unable to come back as planned, and there was an out in his contract allowing him to become a free agent again if not called up to the Yankees by April 20th. He did exercise that out clause when the Yankees failed to call him up by the specified date. On April 24th, he returned to the Brewers on a one-year deal. He made 17 starts in 19 appearances, finishing with a record of 3-2, 3.50. He did not pitch very deep into games, as he totaled just 87 1/3 innings. The Brewers played in the Wild Card Game that season, but Gio was not used. In 2020, he moved to the Chicago White Sox, the team that had originally drafted him, on a one-year deal. The season was delayed and reduced to 60 games by the Coronavirus pandemic, and as a result he appeared in just 12 games, 4 of them start, for the up-and-coming team. He was 1-2, 4.83, logging 31 2/3 innings. For the fifth straight year, his team made the postseason, but as had been the case in 2019, he was not used in the Wild Card Series. He signed a contract with the hometown Miami Marlins for 2021, but as spring training was winding down at the end of March, he announced his retirement.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time All-Star (2011 & 2012)
  • NL Wins Leader (2012)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (2010-2012 & 2017)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2012)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2010, 2011 & 2017)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2012)

Related Sites[edit]