When the New York Yankees play in Washington, D.C against the Nationals on Tuesday, it’ll be a matchup of two of baseball’s hottest teams. LHP Gio Gonzalez will be on the mound for the Nationals against the Yankees’ RHPÂ Masahiro Tanaka.
Gonzalez hasnâ€™t faced the Yankees in inter-league play since 2015. For his career, he has a 1-5 record with a 6.65 ERA in eight games against the Yankees and with that record in mind, he should be in for a rude awakening against the current incarnation of the Bronx Bombers.
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Gonzalez, 32, has been with the Nationals for six seasons and becomes a free agent this fall. He has been an extremely durable pitcher over his career, only once going on the 15-day disabled list back in 2014. Heâ€™s a two time All-Star and finished third in 2012 and sixth in 2017 for the Cy Young Award.[sc name=”StubHub”]
According to MLB.com, recently Gonzalez has been on a roll, allowing only two runs and striking out 21 in his past 18 innings of work. He has a 4-2 record with a 2.22 ERA in eight games this season.
Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes that where Gonzalez was once a hard-thrower, blowing fastballs by hitters, his average fastball velocity has diminished over the past few seasons and he began modifying his approach last season.
Gonzalez told Castillo that in â€™17 he became a pitcher, not a just a thrower:
â€œLast year was a huge adjustment point,â€ Gonzalez said. â€œLast year I was actually pitching. I wasnâ€™t trying to throw it. I understand that I have to be a pitcher. And thatâ€™s what it was. I donâ€™t have to throw hard to get outs, and last year proved it. You just have to locate.â€
Gonzalez has adjusted his repertoire to increase the use of his change-up (83 mph) and curve ball (76 mph), which Brooks Baseball describes as having â€œexceptional bite,â€ along with his sinker (90 mph) and a four seam fastball (90 mph).
Gonzalez will be facing a lineup unlike any other in Major League Baseballâ€”- four hitters have ten home runs or more on the season: Aaron Judge (11), Giancarlo Stanton (10), Didi Gregorius (10) and Gary Sanchez (10).
Coley Harvey of ESPN writes of the historical significance of this accomplishment:
“Before this year, the Yankees had never had four players hit 10 or more home runs by the team’s 40th game of a season — or by the 50th game, for that matter.”
On the season, for example, Stanton is hitting .457 against left-handed pitchers with seven homers and he punished lefty Brett Anderson of the Athletics on Sunday going 4-4, including a home run and three RBIs.
Stanton also has a more than a passing familiarity with Nationals Park. Â According to Fox Sports, he has a .287/.366/.651 slash line in Nationals Park and in 55 career games there Â has 20 home runs.
Left-handed batter Gregorius is likewise having success against lefties this season, hitting .268 with 2 homers.
There are those who predict a Yankees-Nationals World Series in ’18. Tuesday’s matchup of these two powerhouse clubs may just have that October feel to it!