Is Marco Gonzales the ace of the future for the Seattle Mariners?

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 13: Marco Gonzales of the Seattle Mariners reacts after striking out Martin Maldonado. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 13: Marco Gonzales of the Seattle Mariners reacts after striking out Martin Maldonado. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Marco Gonzales of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – AUGUST 25: Marco Gonzales, former Cardinals pitcher, of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Reason No. 2: I don’t think Marco Gonzales can take his game to an elite level

As much as I want to see Marco Gonzales succeed, I am also a realistic person. When you do not throw an upper 90s fastball with a wicked changeup and slider, it is difficult to take your pitching to an elite level in just one offseason. Take, for example, Trevor Bauer, who struggled in 2019. But in the blink of an eye, he comes back in 2020 and wins a Cy Young Award. Or Shane Bieber who posted a 3.28 ERA in 2019, made his first All-Star game and came into 2020 dominating batters.

The difference between those two Cy Young winners and the Mariners’ Marco Gonzales is obvious, an electric fastball and crazy breaking pitches. That is not Marco’s game and that is okay, but I do not think his game can translate into a sub 2.00 ERA. Some pitchers that come to mind are Kyle Hendricks and Hyun Jin Ryu. Both of them throw a fastball in the 88-92 mph range like Marco and rely on precision and deception.

The best Kyle Hendricks has done is a 2.13 ERA in 2016 with the Cubs, and Hyun Jin Ryu posted a 1.97 ERA in 2018 with the Dodgers. Both Hendricks and Ryu have been solid pitchers in their respective starting rotations but they are fringe aces. The Cubs ace is clearly Yu Darvish and Hendricks follows him right now.

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Similar to when Ryu was in Los Angeles, he was always behind Clayton Kershaw. Even though Ryu joined the Blue Jays and became their front of the rotation leader, he was unable to propel the Blue Jays on a long playoff run. To me, no matter how good Hendricks and Ryu are, they will always be seen as fringe aces and as No. 2 pitchers, just like Gonzales. At the same time, players like Hendricks, Ryu, and Gonzales succeeding in the MLB seems like a once in a lifetime scenario.

The reason I brought up Hendricks and Ryu’s successes is that it gives me hope that Marco can continue to trend in the right direction and join the Cy Young conversation in the next couple of years. But at the same time, Gonzales will not become a player that will win multiple Cy Young Awards. That is why I think the Seattle Mariners need to bring in an ace whether via a trade or a free agent signing.

This is the exact reason why I think signing someone like Trevor Bauer would provide the Seattle Mariners with an elite ace, while Marco Gonzales could follow Bauer as a really good No. 2 pitcher. Another idea is trading with the Chicago Cubs to bring in Yu Darvish to provide a foundation for a future playoff team. Last but not least, the third reason.