The journey back from Tommy John surgery in 2016 has been tough for Marco Gonzales, but now entering his third year removed from the procedure, the 26-year-old southpaw is looking to cement himself as one of the American League’s best starting pitchers. In fact, for most of the 2018 season, he was.
Up until a disastrous month of August that negatively inflated his overall numbers, Gonzales posted a 3.35 FIP with an opponent wOBA of .297 in 125.2 innings pitched. When August reared its ugly head, Gonzales struggled through four starts and wound up on the disabled list with a neck injury that sidelined him until mid-September.
Upon Gonzales’ return, however, the lefty got back on track and finished with a 2.73 FIP in his final four starts. This was a big step for Gonzales to take and he did so flawlessly, giving himself a huge confidence boost heading into the upcoming season.
Despite the trade of James Paxton, the Mariners aren’t looking for Gonzales to suddenly step up and fill that void. Instead, look for the M’s to encourage Gonzales to continue making strides in his overall development and establish himself atop their rotation for years to come, when they intend on contending.
Fans should be very excited about Gonzales’ future, though. His amazing turnaround last season was exactly what Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners were banking on when they acquired him from the Cardinals in 2017, and his best years appear to be on the horizon.