Many were waiting for the other shoe to drop with Gio Gonzalez in 2017, but it never did. He finished with some of the best numbers of his career and surpassed 200 innings for the first time since 2011, finishing as an SP1 in terms of earned 5x5 fantasy value. However, he saw an uptick in walks (3.0 BB/9 to 3.5) and benefitted from a .258 BABIP and 81.6 percent strand rate, with his FIP checking in at nearly a full run higher than his ERA. Indeed the underlying numbers suggest he was largely the same pitcher he was in 2016. It's now a question of how long he can continue to outpitch his peripherals. Gonzalez is 32 years old and he underachieved compared to his peripherals from 2014-16, so there is a wide range of outcomes for him in 2018. One thing is certain: his rotation spot is safe as he enters the final year of his contract.
Gonzalez will start Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cubs on Thursday, Dan Kolko of MASN Sports reports. Manager Dusty Baker will go with Gonzalez over Tanner Roark to start the decisive Game 5. Roark's experience out of the bullpen likely played into the decision, as he's expected to be available in relief Thursday. Gonzalez allowed three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six batters through five innings in his first start of the postseason against Chicago.
Gonzalez will toe the rubber for Game 2 of the NLDS against the Cubs on Saturday, Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports reports. Manager Dusty Baker was waiting to see if Max Scherzer (hamstring) was healthy enough to take the mound for Game 2, but it appears as though the club doesn't want to push the right-hander, so Gonzalez will draw the start for the second contest of the series. Under this scenario, Scherzer will most likely take Game 3, and then Baker could choose between Tanner Roark or Stephen Strasburg -- on short rest -- for Game 4, if it's needed. If the series goes the full five games and Strasburg takes the mound in Game 4, Gonzalez would be on the mound for the pivotal finale on normal rest. Throughout the course of the 2017 season, the left-hander has posted a 2.96 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 201 innings.
Gonzalez (15-9) allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks across 4.1 innings while taking the loss Sunday against the Pirates. He struck out two. Gonzalez was blitzed for five runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batsman in the first inning. He labored all afternoon and escaped trouble on a couple of occasions, but he was pulled after three straight hits plated another run in the fifth. It wasn't an ideal finish to the regular season for Gonzalez, but he will still head into the playoffs with a 2.96 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 201 innings during the 2017 campaign.
Gonzalez (15-8) allowed three runs on five hits and five walks across five innings to take the loss Tuesday against the Phillies. He struck out seven. Gonzalez struggled to find the zone in this one, throwing just over 50 percent of his pitches for strikes while notching his second highest walk total of the year. He stranded seven runners, but a rally in the third inning produced all three runs on his ledger. Gonzalez was strong in his previous start and will still finish the regular season with an excellent 2.75 ERA as he sets his sights on his postseason assignment.
Gonzalez (15-7) hung on long enough to get the win over the Braves on Wednesday, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out eight. Both runs scored on solo homers by Freddie Freeman and Kurt Suzuki, and Gonzalez was on the hook for a loss in a 2-1 game when he exited, but the Braves bullpen imploded in the top of the eighth to hand the him the victory. The lefty's 15 wins are his highest total since he won 21 back in 2012, and he'll look to add to that total Tuesday in Philadelphia.