With Brett Anderson being on the injured list for most of the season, the Oakland A's needed someone to step up to become the ace of the staff while Anderson recovered from his injury.
All signs pointed to Dallas Braden as being the new ace of the staff.
The highlight of Braden's success came on Mothers Day when he pitched a perfect game. Since then, Braden has struggled.
Part of the problem has been the lack of run support for the perfect pitcher.
The other problem with Braden is that he doesn't throw particularly hard and since he throws a slider only on occasion, hitters know that they are either getting a mid-to-high 80s fastball or a change-up that's in the 70s.
He's made six starts as of tonight since the perfect game and has given up 44 hits, 21 runs (19 earned), and has gone 0-4 with two no-decisions in that span.
Overall Braden has a 4-6 record, two complete games, one shutout, a 3.95 ERA, 81 hits given up, 38 runs (36 earned), 50 strike outs, and walked 14.
Braden's numbers aren't bad but he hasn't been pitching like an ace.
On the other hand, Gio Gonzalez has been pitching with greater poise and actually has become the most consistent starter on the staff for the A's.
Early in the season Gonzalez did have some struggles.
One issue that was noticeable with him was when he got in a little bit of a jam he'd lose his focus and would lose the strikezone.
He's been much better as of late in those situations.
Unlike Braden, Gonzalez possesses two above average pitches his slider and fastball. So, when Gonzalez needs to, he can blow a hitter away with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball whereas Braden would try to finesses his way through it and, because of that, he's liable to give up bloop hits.
Gonzalez in his last six starts has given up 34 hits, 15 runs (all earned), and has gone 3-1 with two no-decisions.
Overall for the season, he's got a record of 6-3, no complete games or shutouts, a 3.58 ERA, given up 60 hits, 29 runs (all 29 earned), and has 61 strikeouts to 32 walks.
The key to Gonzalez being the ace of the staff came after two late losses in the first two games of their three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
Gonzalez came through in a big way—throwing seven innings while giving up six hits, two runs, and struck out four while walking one.
With Gonzalez pitching so well he has taken over as the ace of the young A's pitching staff in Oakland.