Marco Gonzales is known as a bulldog, both for his knack for gritty performances and his alma mater the Gonzaga Bulldogs. He has been every bit as gritty this season as ever, fighting through a slow start, an injury, and poor command. Incredibly through all of these obstacles, Gonzales still has a chance to have the best ERA of his career.
Gonzales did not have the type of start to the season you want to see from your opening day starter. Early in the campaign, his ERA had spiked to 5.40, and a forearm strain landed him on the IL for the month of May. His pitches clearly didn’t have the same bite or finish to them, leading to an increase in extra-base hits and home runs.
When it comes to starting pitching, Marco Gonzales is as consistent as they come
Even after his return from IL Gonzales was not able to regain the form that made him one of the best in the American League in 2020. Through July 3 Gonzales still carried an ERA of 6.00 according to the ESPN game log and had fallen out of favor with many Mariner fans. The command of the top of the zone, and his ability to keep runners off base had completely deserted him.
However following this July 3 start against the Rangers, Marco has regained his ‘bulldog’ form. Gonzales has completely flipped the script on his 2021 campaign. He has rolled to the tune of a 1.58 ERA in the month of September in 40 innings according to ESPN. His late-season success has been pivotal in the Mariners unlikely push towards contention.
Gonzales has been worth 1.7 WAR in 23 starts this season, in just 130 innings according to Baseball Reference. This is down just slightly from his 2.6 and 3.5 in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Overall in the innings he has been available for, his production is once again very comparable to the baseline he has set for himself.
Gonzales has become a master of consistency during his career in Seattle. Hovering around a 2 win player has been his MO in Seattle, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, Gonzales has lowered his ERA down to 4.01, with a chance to push this below his full-season career-best of 3.99 in 2019. The fact that he has had three seasons that are this similar in production is mind-boggling.
Albeit in less innings, Gonzales has continued to be a rock steady arm in the Mariners rotation. Even though at the times it appeared to be a down season, perseverance and gutsy performances have positioned Marco Gonzales to anchor a Mariners rotation that looks to compete for years to come.