Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales’ success result of big changes to his repertoire
Following a quality start for Marco Gonzales that saw him take a no-hitter into the sixth inning Sunday against Chicago, analyst Mike Blowers couldn’t help but remember an April 24 start opposite the same White Sox team that helped shape the left-hander’s season.
“(Manager) Scott Servais and (pitching coach) Mel Stottlemyre made the decision that (Gonzales) was gonna go through the lineup two times. That was gonna be it. And in that outing … Scott pulled him (after six innings) and he was pitching great. And the message was ‘Use everything you have right away. Don’t save anything,’” Blowers said on the Mariners postgame show. “What that opened his eyes to is, because he has so many different pitches and he can locate and he can throw strikes, he keeps them off-balance with that. So he doesn’t have to save anything because it’s different every time they go up there anyways because he has five quality pitches.”
Since that game in Chicago, it’s been Gonzales who has been opening eyes around baseball. He entered the April 24 contest with a 7.56 ERA through four starts, but after 6 1/3 innings of four-hit, two-run ball on Sunday, his ERA is now all the way down to 3.38. He’s also on a streak of quality starts in four straight outings and eight of his last 11, including his first career complete game in the big leagues.
Mariners insider Shannon Drayer told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton that while Gonzales’ success isn’t all that big of a surprise considering he is a former first-round draft pick and top prospect in the Cardinals organization, the way he’s achieving that success is.
“It has been an incredible progression and it has been a very rapid progression, and unexpected in some areas,” Drayer said of the 26-year-old Gonzaga alum. “At one point he had the highest-rated changeup in the Cardinals organization. That’s saying a lot. But he gets to the Mariners and the next thing you know, he’s got that changeup but he’s throwing his cutter a lot more. … The curveball we had no idea was as good as it is. So, ‘OK, we’re gonna use this more.’ … He can throw 94, 95. We saw that in spring training, we saw it a time or two last year, but he has abandoned the fastball. His four-seam fastball is not something that was really benefiting him with everything else that he had, so early on this season he starts working on a two-seamer. He’s more into the ups and the downs and the ins and the outs of pitching instead of ‘I’m going to try and get this by you.’
“He has made such a change in his repertoire, and we’re not talking about one pitch, we’re basically talking about three.”
Now with five pitches in his arsenal, Gonzales doesn’t have to rely too much on any one, as was shown in Sunday’s win.
“He has just got so much at his disposal on any given night,” Drayer said. “(Sunday) the two-seamer didn’t have the action on it, wasn’t sharp out of his hand, so he basically throws that away and he’s still throwing no-hit baseball for over five innings. He’s got a lot of weapons, he’s very smart in how he uses them, and just the progression that he has shown in one year I think is amazing.”
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) July 23, 2018
You can hear the full segment with Drayer in the podcast of Clayton’s Monday show.