The Surprise That Is Marco Gonzales

Over the weekend, I noticed that Marco Gonzales, starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, had been picked up on waivers in my oldest fantasy baseball league. The league originally started back in Memphis, TN, so long ago I’d prefer not to say. But these days, as people have gone on with their lives, players live in Seattle, (obviously me), Atlanta, and Tampa. Coordinating eastern time, central time, and pacific time auctions can be challenging, but it’s always fun.

But, back to Marco Gonzales. Mariners fans know that after suffering through a rocky April, Gonzales has been brilliant for most of May and now into June. But, it was kind of surprising that Gonzales had made it on to the national radar, albeit among a group of fans that is possibly more keenly aware of statistical trends in players’ performance than the casual fan. And, to be fair, this group jumped all over Mitch Haniger when I brought his name up for auction at a dollar, hoping to sneak him past my Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals centric playing partners. So, Gonzales being plucked from the free agent pool of fantasy players made me want to see just how good he’s been lately.

Marco Gonzales May Have Figured It Out

Back in April, Gonzales had a three-game stretch, that, at the time, raised some concerns. On April 9th, the Mariners faced the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City and Gonzales would only give them 2.1 innings, his shortest outing of the season, up to then and since, where he would yield 8 hits and 4 earned runs. Then in his next outing on April 14th, Gonzales went only one inning deeper versus the Oakland A’s at home, 3.1 innings, and also gave up 4 earned runs. This time on 5 hits.  In the last game of this rocky period, Gonzales took the bump on April 19th against the Houston Astros in Safeco and stretched it out to 4.2 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 earned runs.

Over the three-game stretch, Gonzales pitched 11.1 innings and gave up 16 hits and allowed 11 earned runs for a WHIP of 2.79 and an 8.92 ERA. Not entirely encouraging. However, over the same stretch, he did manage to strikeout 17 batters while only walking 3 for a K/9 of 13.78 and a BB/9 of 2.43.

Since the fourth start of the season on April 19th, Gonzales has failed to go 6 innings only once, in the 2-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Safeco on May 17th. But in that outing he did not allow an earned run in 5.2 innings pitched. In fact, starting with the May 17th Tigers game, Gonzales has only allowed 1 earned run over four consecutive outings.

In his last four starts, Gonzales has pitched 5.2 innings against the Tigers, allowing zero earned runs; 7.0 innings against the A’s, allowing zero earned runs; 6.2 innings against the Texas Rangers, allowing zero runs; and 6.2 innings against the Tampa Rays, allowing 1 earned run. Over that four-game stretch, the Mariner left hander has a 0.884 WHIP and an ERA of 0.346. Wow.  He has stuck out a modest 21 hitters for a K/9 of 7.27, while walking 11 for a 3.81 BB/9. The walk figure is somewhat inflated in the small sample by a 4 free pass game against the Rangers.

For the season, Gonzales has contributed the second most fWAR on the pitching staff for the Mariners with 1.4, just a tick ahead of closer Edwin Diaz who has 1.3 and behind James Paxton who sports a 2.3 fWAR. Something about no-hitters and 16 K games will bump a pitchers WAR slightly. Gonzales’ season ERA is 3.38, but his FIP suggests he might be a tad better with 3.22.

Good in Both Fantasy Baseball and Real Baseball

Who would have thought coming into the season that Marco Gonzales would be the second-best starter on the Seattle Mariners? The three outings in April cast some doubt on the season and seemed to suggest that the Mariners could spend the Summer chasing their own pitchers on offense, trying to put up enough runs to stay in ball games. But, what appeared to be a liability in April (and that was much of the pitching staff, both starters and relievers, not just Gonzales) has turned into a major asset for the first-place ball club from the Emerald City.

So, if you play fantasy baseball and Marco Gonzales is still on your waiver wire, go get him. If you just like to watch good pitching and root for the Mariners, Gonzales’ next start will come on the road against the Rays. Don’t be surprised if he has another good outing.

About Brian Hight 103 Articles
Brian Hight lives in Seattle and writes primarily about MLB and the local Seattle Mariners, with a focus on advanced analytics. Occasionally, he delves into the NFL and the NBA, also with an emphasis on advanced statistics. He’s currently pursuing a Certificate in Data Analysis online from Microsoft, where he hopes to create a prediction model for baseball outcomes for his capstone project.