Milwaukee Brewers: Time to sign Gio Gonzalez

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Pitcher Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during the first inning of Game Four of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Pitcher Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during the first inning of Game Four of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /

Pitcher Gio Gonzalez is once again a free agent, and with the issues the Milwaukee Brewers have had with their starting pitching, they should add him to the rotation.

This season there is incredible expectations on this Milwaukee Brewers team, perhaps like never before. As a result, General Manager David Stearns was active in free agency bringing Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas to further bolster an already stout batting order.

However, adding to their starting rotation was not something that they did. Milwaukee let veteran Wade Miley test the waters in free agency as well as the aforementioned Gio Gonzalez, both of which would have been relatively cheap options to bring back. But the Milwaukee Brewers are committed to their young pitchers and even if they were to acquire Gio, it doesn’t change that.

Coming into the season, it was a safe assumption that the young trio was going to take their lumps early on, but they have struggled more so than what may have been anticipated. Brandon Woodruff has a 5.81 ERA with a 1.481 WHIP and has allowed four or more runs in three of his five outings. While Freddy Peralta outside of a very good start in Cincinnati hasn’t pitched more than 3.1 innings and is now on the disabled list. Lastly, Corbin Burnes has allowed 11 home runs and 21 earned runs in just 17.2 innings of work and is now in Triple-A.

In order to win games, the Brewers offense is having to put up big numbers and the early exits from the pitching staff are taking a toll on the bullpen. The starting rotation is in need of a boost right now.

Gio Gonzalez becomes a free agent

Like many other free agents, Gonzalez was struggling to get the contract that he desired, so he would end up signing a minor league deal with the New York Yankees this offseason. After spending the first few weeks of the season in Triple-A, Gio would fire his agent Scott Boras and demand that he be added to the 25-man roster or be released. And as of Monday, the Yankees decided to part ways with the veteran left-hander.

Given the Milwaukee Brewers inconsistencies within the starting rotation, a reunion with Gonzalez makes a lot of sense. The two-time All-Star has put together a very solid career, including a recent 2017 season where he would record 15 wins with a 2.96 ERA, a WHIP of 1.179, and held his opponents to an OPS of just .642, while pitching in over 200 innings.

Unfortunately, the 2018 season was a different story for a majority of it. Before joining the Brewers, Gio would post a 4.57 ERA and a WHIP of 1.531. Much of Gonzalez’ issues could be attributed to the number of walks he was giving up, as he would end up finishing with the sixth most in all of baseball with 80 last season.

Yet once Gonzalez arrived in Milwaukee, the change of scenery must have helped. The Milwaukee Brewers would go 5-0 in the starts he made in the month of September as he would allow only six earned runs and recorded a 0.947 WHIP over 25.1 innings. Gio ended up playing a big role in the Brewers playoff push over that final month.

Why signing Gio makes sense

Milwaukee has already had to make a few moves within their starting rotation this season, from moving Burnes and Peralta out, to bringing in Chase Anderson and Adrian Houser. But Gonzalez will provide them with a dependable starter every fifth game.

Over his 11 year career, Gio has averaged nearly 165 innings pitched per season. His ability to eat up innings will have a trickled down effect to the bullpen as they likely won’t have to make an early appearance when Gio is on the mound. Also, that kind of durability is incredibly valuable over the course of a long season.

As a pitcher, Gonzalez generates a high number of groundball outs, which is going to help him if he calls the hitter-friendly confines of Miller Park home for an entire season. He isn’t going to overpower batters, but using a four-pitch repertoire he is able to keep batters off-balance and does a nice job of locating the ball low in the zone, which is why he doesn’t give up many long balls. Gio is also going to give Milwaukee a left-handed option in the starting rotation, something that they currently do not have, but would help them greatly.

If Brewer fans get a notification on their phone saying that Milwaukee has signed a starting pitcher, they will want it to be Dallas Keuchel, and for good reasons. However, at $15-$20 million per year, I don’t know how realistic that is for a small market team that already has a record payroll. On the other hand, Gio is going to give Milwaukee’s starting rotation some much-needed help and at a much cheaper price. He signed his original one year deal with New York for $3 million, so I imagine his new team will give him a similar offer, perhaps even a bit cheaper.

It is still early in the season and Milwaukee’s young trio will play a major role this year, but Gonzalez can come in and help stabilize the rotation for the time being and won’t be a threat to their long-term development. He will be another veteran presence in the locker room and will also add some playoff experience and leadership to this rotation.

Next. Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel?. dark

Gio seemed to enjoy his brief time in Milwaukee last season and although he likely won’t step in and be an unstoppable force, he can be relied upon, as well as give this pitching staff a nice boost early in the season.