Gio González Could Get Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo Off of the Hook

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer ISeptember 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 22:  Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals waves to the crowd after earning his 20th win of the season as the Washington Nationals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 10-4 at Nationals Park on September 22, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Former Montreal Expo Ross Grimsley has company.

Gio González became the second 20-game winner in franchise history as the Washington Nationals inched a little closer to the National League East title.

He looked like an ace out there today. He pitched against a red-hot Milwaukee Brewers team and shut them down.

He pitched seven innings with no earned runs, three hits and a single walk. His ERA dropped to 2.84 and he remains in the Cy Young race.

So the Nationals will have a No. 1 starter going into the postseason, and it's a fair bet that Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo is breathing a sigh of relief with Gonzalez's performance.

Rizzo got a lot of grief for how he shut down All Star starter Stephen Strasburg for the season. LaVar and Dukes from CBS DC questioned the move before Strasburg was even officially shutdown.

And, as reported by Mark Zuckerman from, manager Davey Johnson blamed the media hype partially for Strasburg's subpar final few games.

Because, of course, the media put an innings limit on Strasburg and announced it in spring training.

Still, the franchise is in the playoffs for the first time since 1981, and the city of Washington is going to get their first taste of the post season since 1933.

A perfect storm of events—including the rapid maturation of key players and the decline of the Phillies and the Marlins—puts the Nats in this pleasantly unexpected place.

And Rizzo was removing a key arm.

If Gonzalez pitches like he did today and like he has all year, the Strasburg decision will be forgotten quicker. Most teams would be just fine having Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson as their second, third and fourth pitchers.

Then again, having Gio and Strasburg going 1-2 in a short series would make it almost a lock for Washington.

Well, it seems like a gamble Mike Rizzo is willing to take.