Sunday, May 1, 2011

Welcome back Michael Gonzalez

In 2010 the Orioles signed Michael Gonzalez to be a shutdown closer and he had a nightmarish start to the season that we all want to forget. He was injured, he went away. But he came back and finished the season very very strong. In the second half Gonzalez pitched to a 2.78 ERA and held opponents to a .165 BA and a .545 OPS. He finally became the pitcher everyone thought he would be. Now, as much as I really don't want to call him "Cobra" (because I can't do it without a raspy voice) after last summer's performance I was excited to see "Gonzo" be another reliable arm in a bullpen that was shaping up to be rather strong.

Then 2011 happened.

The new season started and Gonzalez seemed to be repeating the same mistakes again. He had no control and anything that did get near the plate seemed to be the size of a beachball. In his first six appearances Gonzalez never pitched more than 1.1 innings and he gave up runs in all but one. He was struggling and not being used often. The Orioles called up Clay Rapada to be the LOOGY, but he struggled. Gonzalez was, very noticeably, being ignored in high leverage situations. Gonzlaez had not pitched in nearly a week prior to his seventh appearance of the season against the Red Sox. In that appearance Gonzalez came in with a man on base and allowed him and another run to score by allowing two hits, a walk while only recording one out.

Gonzo drew the ire of fans by saying in the press that he actually felt GOOD about that outing. Now he was talking about his rhythm and his tempo, not his results. But the comments still felt incongruous and it only result in grumbles and enough eye-rolls. Then came last night.

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