Seattle Mariners – Marco Gonzales And The Roller Coaster Of Emotion

Marco Gonzales made his way up to the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system with accolades aplenty, but his time pitching at the major league level has not been as admirable. After a major league career that has teeter-tottered between poor and decent, Gonzales is still trying to cement himself as a reliable starting pitcher since his first start in 2014.

But after his first two starts with the Seattle Mariners this season, has Marco truly proven that he is capable of holding down hitters while on the mound? Don’t ask a magic 8-ball; I can tell you now, the outlook isn’t so good.

In his first start this season, Marco Gonzales managed to hinder the Giants’ offense to 6 hits, allowing only 3 earned runs and striking out 2 batters in 6.1 innings. It was a hopeful sign. Gonzales didn’t even register a walk. He had only allowed 1 run going into the 7th inning, a solo home run to Joe Panik in the 4th, which at that point was only the 2nd hit the Giants managed get off the young southpaw.

It wasn’t until the 7th inning that Gonzales allowed his next two runs to score, off an Evan Longoria home run. He was relieved after that at-bat, confident in his performance. The 6 1/3 inning outing was in fact the longest outing Gonzales ever had as a starter at the major league level.

Emotions were running high. The Mariners had just come off a triumphant opening series against the AL Central favorite Indians, which the M’s took two games to one. Fans of baseball in the Pacific Northwest were hungry for yet another win, and the Mariners delivered with Gonzales at the mound. The Seattle ball club had won three games of their first four, and we were all excited to see Marco Gonzales shine again.

Fast forward to Gonzales’ second start, April 9th against the Royals. The bright star that was Marco Gonzales in his first outing dimmed to but a flickering flame in his second. He managed to record all three outs of the first inning by strikeout, but not without allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs in between those strikeouts.

Gonzales, who’s successes come from being a fastball-changeup pitcher with a decent curve, was not showing his command going into this game. In the first inning, he threw his ever-dependable changeup 11 times. Though his changeup did stave off Jorge Soler, it was hit for a single twice, and fouled off three times.

Gonzales was off to a rocky start, but did manage to come back in the second. He retired the first two batters with the help of Robinson Cano behind him in defense, and could have had a perfect inning, had it not been for a play at first challenged by the Royals, which led to Mike Moustakas landing a single. It didn’t matter, Gonzales managed to retire the next batter, Chester Cuthbert, with ease.

Soon after, in the third inning Gonzales allowed a single to leadoff batter Jorge Soler, and a double to the next batter Paulo Orlando. After striking out Royals DH Cam Gallagher, manager Scott Servais quickly pulled his young starter. He went 2 1/3 innings, allowing 8 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts. He faced 16 batters and reached 64 pitches.

It is this teeter-tottering of Gonzales’ performances mentioned before that invites worry and fear into the hearts of M’s fans. Last year, Marco had more than his fair share of opportunities on the mound. Though never going more than 5 innings in a single game, Marco appeared in 10 games for the M’s. In those 36 and 2/3 innings pitched, he allowed 22 runs, and posted an ERA of 5.40, staying pretty consistent with his crude career ERA of 5.38.

It hasn’t just been Marco. The pitching staff as a whole for Seattle has tended to work in extremes in these first 8 games of the season. They’ve been stellar, they’ve been phenomenal; they’ve been disastrous as well. Mike Leake has been the only shred of consistency in this small sample size. There is still an entire season to go, an entire season for things to go wrong, but also for things to go well. Maybe the magic 8-ball foretells a brighter future.

Marco Gonzales has a lot to prove. Not necessarily to his team, not necessarily to Mariners fans, but to himself. Two outings is by no means revealing of what truly might be under the hood of this young left hander, but with the track record he’s already placed for himself, it does leave cause to worry.

Whatever the future may hold for the Gonzaga Goliath, only his next start will tell.

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About Mario Martin del Campo 9 Articles
Mario Martin del Campo is a writer who focuses on all aspects of baseball, be they metric analytics or interesting narratives to consider. He writes with a particular emphasis on the Seattle Mariners. He hopes to entertain readers by combining his love of literature, statistics, and intricate baseball nuances. He can be found on twitter @Mario_Md