For the Oakland A's the team has a ton of talented starting pitchers and one of those pitchers is Gio Gonzalez. The word to describe his season so far has been inconsistent at one point he looked like the ace for the A's and other times he's struggled mightily.
Looking at his numbers before tonights game he's got a record of 10-7, with a 3.51 ERA, has started 23 games, has one complete game, and has struck out 114 while walking 62 hitters.
One of his biggest problems has been walking batters. What's really been noticeable though is the walks tend to come after a hitter gets on either by a hit or an error. While watching Gonzalez it's almost as if he expects to get every hitter out and when things don't go his way like he expected he loses concentration for that inning.
Looking at his splits it's understandable on why he struggles at times with runners on base.
With runners in scoring position batters are hitting .257 against Gonzalez, but looking further it's even more telling. With no runners on he's very effective holding batters to a .202 average.
Yet, when runners get on base that's when things get out of control for Gonzalez. With a runner on first opponents are hitting .333, with just a runner on second batters are hitting .308, and when there's only a runner at third teams are hitting .375
When there's runners on first with less than two outs he's held hitters to a .231 average, with runners at third with less than two outs he's held hitters to a remarkable .056 average, but more concerning is what happens with two outs and a runner at third Gonzalez is hit at a .296 clip.
Clearly shows that if a hitter gets on base his concentration is off! What about with multiple runners on base?
With runners on first and second Gonzalez is just a bit better than when there's just a runner on base with hitters batting .289. When there's runners on first and third Gonzalez buckles down and pitches extremely well holding batters to a minuscule .077 average.
Gonzalez even does decent with runners on second and third holding batters to a .250 average. Bases loaded against Gonzalez hitter are only hitting .200 against him.
In general though when there's no outs in an inning Gonzalez is holding batters to a .189 average, when there's one out he's still at a respectable .231, but when there's two outs Gonzalez struggles with hitters having a .285 average.
Batting in the clutch against Gonzalez such as with two outs and a runner in scoring position hitters are hitting him at a .323 clip. In the later innings with the game close though Gonzalez does much better holding hitters to a .222 average.
As for when teams are trying to comeback when they are within one run hitters are batting .215, when trailing by two runs a .247 average, within three runs a .234 average, within four runs .241, and trailing by four runs or more a .125 average.
Problem innings for Gonzalez have been the second inning where hitters are batting .289 and the fifth inning opponents are hitting .295 against him.
Strong innings for him have been the third inning teams are hitting just .175 and the sixth inning teams have just a .193 average.
Counts are an interesting as well:
First Pitch: .268
1-0 count: .378
2-0 count: .368
3-0 count: N/A has walked all 14 batters
0-1 count: .238
0-2 count: .109
1-2 count: .113
2-2 count: .085
1-1 count: .327
2-1 count: .324
3-1 count: .424
Regardless of the count with a three ball count opponents are hitting .365, with two strikes hitters are batting .155, when the count is even .203, and when a batter is behind .143
Just looking at numbers though is hard to put into context on how Gonzalez struggles with runners on base. The best example of this came in a recent start against the Chicago White Sox.
Gonzalez was pitching extremely well in fact he was perfect up until that point and what's more disconcerting is the fact that he struck out 11 White Sox in that start as well.
The trouble inning was the bottom of the fifth inning and even then the inning started off well. Gonzalez struck out Paul Konerko on three pitches, but after that is when he got in trouble.
Carlos Quentin hit a single, Ramon Castro hit an infield single, he gets the second out of the inning by getting Dayan Viciedo to fly out, Gonzalez then hits Andrew Jones with a pitch.
The next batter up Brent Lillibridge who Gonzalez shouldn't have had any problems with, but instead he gave Lillibridge way too good of a pitch to hit a fastball that Lillibridge took to right field for a three run triple.
Matt Carson made an attempt to catch the ball but came up just short of making the spectacular catch when in reality regardless of the situation the ball was going to drop and score at least two runs even if Carson didn't dive.
Juan Pierre bunted and scored Lillibridge bringing the score to 4-0 White Sox and Gonzalez finally ended the inning by striking out Alexei Ramirez.
Besides the White Sox game what really stand out is what happens when Gonzales falls behind in the count. He becomes very hittable in those situations and one of the biggest thing during the offseason is how Gonzalez makes an adjustment.
Gonzalez has been quoted as saying this about Dallas Braden "because of Dallas, I have great composure, and I have grown up big-time throughout my big-league experience."
Yes, the overall numbers for Gonzalez are impressive with a 3.51 ERA and he has grown as a pitcher. As the season winds down it will be interesting to see how he progresses and what will be interesting to see is Gonzalez being able to work back from falling behind in the count.
If Gonzalez can keep up his work while being ahead of hitters and improves on when runners on base, he could become a top of the rotation starter for the A's.
But if he continues to struggle while falling behind then he's most likely going to find himself out of a job of back in Sacramento...