Oct 4, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) laughs during batting practice before game two of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: David Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Starting Game 4 for one of the NLDS games today is left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez for the Washington Nationals, but did you know he was in the White Sox organization not once, but twice?
Gonzalez was originally drafted in 2004 by the White Sox in the first round with the 38th overall pick, but before he could even wear the White Sox uniform, he was traded on Dec. 8, 2005 to the Philadelphia Phillies to complete a deal which landed the White Sox Jim Thome, according to the fine folks at baseball-reference.com.
Sep 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches against the New York Mets during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
On Jan. 3, 2008, the White Sox traded Gonzalez for a second time, as they gave up him and two others for the one and only Nick Swisher in a deal with the Oakland Athletics.
So on two opportunities, the White Sox gave up on Gonzalez, and now six years after trading him, he’s making a start in the NLDS, trying to keep his team alive in the postseason and to force a Game 5.
This season with the Nationals, in 27 starts, Gonzalez was 10-10 with a 3.57 ERA, as he’s won no fewer than 10 games each year he had made over 25 starts in the majors.
In fact, since 2010, Gonzalez’s season ERAs have been no higher than his ’14 ERA of 3.57, as he’s had ERAs of 3.23, 3.12, 2.89 and 3.36 from 2010-13.
I think looking back all these years later at the two trades for Gonzalez, especially the one for Swisher, who only played one season for the White Sox … in hindsight, that second trade was a bad deal for the White Sox.
Who really knows what the White Sox would have become with Gonzalez, but he’s had good success in both the AL and NL during his career, and his 3.57 ERA and 162 strikeouts would have looked pretty good with the White Sox rotation in ’14.
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In ’14, he walked just 56 batters in 27 starts (he faced 653 batters) and had a WHIP (BB+/IP) of 1.197, which would have been the second-best WHIP on the White Sox this season, trailing only Chris Sale, who was at 0.97. Jose Quintana was second on the White Sox at 1.24.
Gonzalez’s ERA (3.57) would have been third best on the Good Guys’ starting rotation, trailing only Sale (2.17) and Quintana (3.32).
These “what if” games are always fun to look back at. I believe if the White Sox would have kept him the second time around, they would have been a better team these past few seasons.
So, when you watch Game 4 of the NLDS this evening at 9 p.m., just wonder a little bit about if the White Sox would have kept Gonzalez, and what it would have been like for the team if they never traded him that second time around.