Posted on September 1, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
On the last day of August, the Milwaukee Brewers have acquired the kind of starting pitcher they’ve coveted for quite some time. The Brewers acquired starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez from the Washington Nationals on Friday. The Nationals will receive shortstop prospect Gilbert Lara and catching prospect D.J. Harrison as part of the deal.
Despite his excellent track record, Gonzalez is not necessarily a sure thing to work out for the Brewers. In 27 starts this season, he’s 7-11 with a 4.57 ERA. That’s a far cry from last season when he won 15 games and posted a 2.97 ERA. Gonzalez got off to a fast this season, only to endure a disastrous month of June. He’s been nearly as bad during the month of August. In his last six starts, Gonzalez is 1-4 with a 7.47 ERA. That doesn’t bode well for him heading into September.
Despite Gonzalez’s recent struggles, he still possesses a strong track record. More importantly, the Brewers are in need of rotation help. Milwaukee has only one starter with an ERA under 4, and that’s veteran Jhoulys Chacin. With Brent Suter lost for the season and Jimmy Nelson ruled out for the year after offseason shoulder surgery, the Brewers have struggled to fill out the back end of their rotation. If nothing else, Gonzalez gives Milwaukee a veteran to fill that role.
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“They want it. They’re doing everything they can. They feel they have the team that’s gonna take them to the next level,” Gonzalez said of the Brewers. “They’re definitely making a push for it, and I’m happy to be on a team that wants to go the distance.”
If the Brewers make the playoffs, Gonzalez gives them a starter with playoff experience. While his postseason numbers aren’t overly impressive, Gonzalez has six career playoff starts, including three over the past two seasons. That experience could be important for a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2011.
Of course, the Brewers still have to reach the playoffs. They’ve lost a little ground in the NL Central in recent weeks and now trail the Cubs by five games. Milwaukee still has control of the second wild-card spot in the National League. But there are three teams within three games of that spot, so holding onto it won’t be easy to do over the next month.
For the Nationals, this trade continues a fire sale they started earlier this month. They have unloaded quickly, with Gonzalez being the most notable pitcher to be moved. Of course, none of the prospects they’ve received in these trades are expected to be difference makers in the majors. This trade is more about the Brewers taking a chance on getting Gonzalez, who will be a free agent this winter.
“I think everyone needs a fresh start now and then,” Gonzalez said of his recent struggles. “It’s unfortunate I put myself in this situation, and now it’s time I get myself out of it. Milwaukee took a shot with me, and I’m going to do my best to make it happen.”
Obviously, there is no guarantee the trade for Gonzalez will work out. His recent struggles and age are a huge red flag. However, moving to a contending team could help him in the same way Cole Hamels has turned things around since being traded to the Cubs. Despite his poor numbers over the past month, he’s had a couple quality starts, so he’s still capable of giving the Brewers quality starts. With that in mind, acquiring Gonzalez for the final month of the season is worth the risk.