Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13) has been one of my favorite pitchers for the past several years. The past two seasons, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball with the Oakland Athletics. He was traded to the Nationals in the offseason. You can tell how valued Gonzalez was: The price for him was a B+, a B, and a B- pitcher along with a B catcher (grades according to John Sickels). Four of Washington's top ten prospects is a hefty cost.
It's worked out well for the Nationals, however, as Gonzalez is having his best season yet. He currently has a career high 10.14 K/9 along with a career low 3.58 BB/9 and career low 0.48 HR/9. His 3.13 ERA is close to his 3.12 and 3.23 ERAs of the past two seasons. However, his 2.70 FIP is much better than in 2011 and 2010 when he posted 3.64 and 3.78 FIPs, respectively.
Gonzalez has cooled off slightly recently, with a 4.59 ERA in his last six starts. Most of that comes from a six run start against the Mets and a couple four run starts. He did not allow more than two earned runs in any of the other three starts. That includes his last start when he pitched seven two-hit innings and did not have an earned run against the Mets.
Gonzalez throws three pitches primarily: A 93 MPH four-seamer (38%), a 93 MPH two-seamer (33%) and an 80 MPH curveball (21%). This will be his first start against the Brewers, so it should be no surprise that he has yet to face a current Brewer at least ten times.
Opposing him will be Mark Rogers (0-0, -.--), who will be making his first major league appearance since October 1, 2010. Rogers is providing a real glimpse at life without Zack Greinke as it was Greinke's scheduled day to pitch. With his trade, Rogers has been called up to start on an indefinite basis.
Rogers spent much of the 2011 season injured before coming back and making 18 starts for the Nashville Sounds this season. His walk rate has been way down this year, at just a 6.99 K/9, while he has also been walking 4.63 batters per nine innings. That has led him to have a not-great year thus far, with a 4.72 ERA and 5.12 FIP. The good news is Rogers has been much better in July. He has a 1.87 ERA in four starts and has averaged just 3.5 hits per game over that span. His strikeouts have also been up as he has struck out a batter per inning in July.
Rogers, of course, has not faced a Nationals hitter at least ten times.
In the bullpen:
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (6 pitches) last night.
Jim Henderson pitched one inning (17 pitches) last night.
Tyler Thornburg pitched one inning (20 pitches) Thursday, and also pitched on Wednesday.
John Axford pitched two innings (26 pitches) Wednesday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched .2 innings (15 pitches) Wednesday.
Manny Parra last pitched on Tuesday.