Player Preview: Gio Gonzalez
2016's starting rotation will be slightly different than it has in the past, but one Nationals pitcher won't change much. Gio Gonzalez will be going into his 5th season as a Washington National in 2016, his last contract year before options come into play. Gio came over in 2012 as the result of a landmark trade with Oakland, and he's been a staple of the team ever since. Gio became an instant favorite in D.C. when fans took notice of his bright personality and his sometimes comical plays during games. Gio's been a great addition to the Nationals rotation and has even hit a few surprising early season home runs. That success, except for the home runs, is likely to continue this year as well.
Gio's previous seasons with the Nationals have all been pretty solid, with only one notable injury stretch early in the 2014 season. Gio's 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 all saw seasons where the lefty picked up at least 10 wins, pitched at least 158.2 innings in his worst year, and had a mostly consistent K/9 in that time. Gio's best year came in his first season in the National league, where he pitched 199 innings and had a career low FIP and ERA of 2.82 and 2.89 respectively. While Gio's 21 wins in 2012 haven't been matched since, he's been consistent in all other statistical categories during his time in D.C. and that is the reason he's played such a prominent role in the Nationals rotation.
While Gio can be somewhat wild on the hill for a few starts during the year, he is a guy you can count on every 5th day to give your team a chance when he takes the hill. That likely won't change much in 2016 as Gio will take his spot in the rotation and undoubtedly make his regularly scheduled starts throughout the season. Though Gio may not always be consistent on the mound, missing the strike zone and walking guys, his season stats have been all too consitent throughout his time in D.C. A normal season from Gio will see the left hander pick up 170+ innings and have a K/9 around 8.5, while having a FIP somewhere in the area of 3.00 to 3.50. That being said, Gio will walk batters somewhere in the 3.5 range, and while we'd like to see Gio bring those numbers down it is unlikely that will change much given his history.
Gio will share the rotation with some other well known guys, such as Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Up and coming pitchers such as AJ Cole and Joe Ross will likely see time in the rotation as well. Gio is fortunate to be surrounded by a mix of strong known talent and some up and coming players as well, so the Nationals rotation still looks strong, especially with Gio in the mix.