Apr 14, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) throws during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Giants Go For the Sweep In Battle Of Southpaws: Game Preview

April 08, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches the ball against the Colorado Rockies during the third inning at AT

Pitching Matchup: Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 3.09) vs. Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.01)

Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area put it best in his Extra Baggs column: “These walk-off wins are starting to feel like a natural reaction.”

That indeed. Pablo Sandoval’s walk-off homer on Tuesday night lifted the San Francisco Giants over the Washington Nationals for the second consecutive day. ESPN Stats and Info estimated Sandoval’s booming blast into Barry Bonds Territory at 464 feet. That might even be an understatement.

Regardless, Sandoval’s home run puts the Giants in a position where they can go for the sweep Wednesday afternoon against Gio Gonzalez. San Francisco will counter with Madison Bumgarner, who yielded seven runs in 4.2 innings against the Colorado Rockies in his last start.

Scouting Gio Gonzalez

As good as Gonzalez was last year (2.89 ERA, 9.3 K/9), he hasn’t been nearly as effective in 2013. Through nine starts, he’s compiled a 4.01 ERA and 3.98 FIP (Fielding Independent Percentage), which suggests that he’s not getting unlucky or victimized by poor defense. That suggestion seems feasible given that he’s walking 4.2 batters per nine innings, a near full walk difference from his 2012 mark (3.4). FIP measures what a pitcher can control, and walks are indeed something in a pitcher’s control.

Gonzalez’s K/9 rate has remained steady in the low nine’s despite the slight decrease in his fastball velocity (93.3 to 92.7 MPH). The decrease hasn’t hampered its effectiveness, though. Opponents are hitting a mere .238 against the pitch.

As for his off-speed arsenal, his curveball has rendered a .091 batting average, and his change-up has garnered a .250 mark. What’s more impressive is the fact that both pitches have a walk percentage of less than five, while his fastball has a walk percentage north of 14. So, we’re starting to see where his command is foiling him–fastball.

Getting to Gonzalez early has been the approach this year, as he’s surrendered nine of his 24 runs in the first frame. Further, in the fourth inning, where he has surrendered seven runs, has also been a problem.

However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Gonzalez got back on track against the Giants, who are are slashing .200/.294/.293 against Gonzalez in 75 combined lifetime at bats.

Tags: Gio Gonzalez Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants Washington Nationals

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