Gio Gonzalez Is the Best Pitcher in Baseball and Will Lead Nats Deep in Playoffs

Michael Nargi@NargOnSportsSenior Analyst IMay 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 21: Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 21, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals made the best move in baseball over the offseason when they acquired Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A's.

When the move was made, it was assumed that Gonzalez would be second in line to Stephen Strasburg in the Nats' rotation. It appears now that Gio might have not only passed Strasburg but perhaps the rest of major league baseball in the process.

Gonzalez has dealt with all of his opponents this season with ease that is rarely been seen at the MLB level.

After allowing four runs in 3.2 innings in his Nats' debut, Gonzalez went on to start three consecutive games without allowing a run and only allowing two hits in each start. He has not allowed more than three runs since that first outing of the season.

Gonzalez is striking batters out at a remarkable rate as well this season. He has struck out a major league-leading 69 batters in 54.2 innings while only allowing a mere 32 hits. His ERA sits at a minuscule 1.98 through his first nine starts.

It does not appear to be a question anymore as to whether Gonzalez is an elite starter, but rather is he the best in the game?

Judging by his numbers and his dominance on the mound this season, it is safe to say that Gonzalez is the best pitcher in baseball through the first quarter of the season.

What makes it more impressive is that Gonzalez is doing it in a new league with a new team across the country. He always had better numbers at home in Oakland through his career, making people wonder if he would be able to pitch for a new team. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 28, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Gonzalez has lived up to all of the hype that followed him to D.C., and when this season ends it would not be a surprise if he walks away with the National League Cy Young award.

Gonzalez is essential down the road because the Nats will likely have to go without Strasburg eventually since the young pitcher is supposed to be on an innings limit this season. 

Gio will be pivotal to the Nats' success as they jockey for positioning in the playoffs. He will lead them to the division and will help them get deep into the playoffs. When the pitching staff is one ace down in the heat of the summer, it will be Gonzalez who bears the weight.

The league will still be trying to catch up to him as he picks teams off one by one in October.