Mike Blowers on Mariners’ Marco Gonzales’ success in 2020: ‘I don’t think it’s going to go away’
Going into the season, there wasn’t really an expectation for Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales to be an ace even though he was Seattle’s opening day starter and unquestionably the No. 1 pitcher in the rotation.
There’s no arguing that he’s been anything other than an ace in 2020, though.
The 28-year-old Gonzales spun the latest in a series of gems on Monday night, keeping Houston Astros hitters flummoxed over eight innings of shutout ball to lead the Mariners to a key 6-1 win that brings them within three games of the second American League West playoff spot that Houston currently holds.
With six strikeouts and just one walk, Gonzales actually worsened his MLB-leading strikeouts-to-walks ratio to 9.83, which is a pretty strong indication of just how good he’s been this year.
Mike Blowers, who handles color commentary duties for Mariners games on ROOT Sports and regularly joins Shannon Drayer on the radio pregame and postgame shows on 710 ESPN Seattle, had high praise after the game Tuesday night on the radio, comparing Gonzales to a quintet of former standout southpaws. That included how Gonzales has pitches that remind him of Jim Abbott, Jimmy Key, Mark Buehle and Kenny Rogers, as well as a similar fiery competitiveness of Andy Pettitte.
I’m just here to win. pic.twitter.com/87NNDsPlLB
— Marco Gonzales (@MarcoGonzales_) September 22, 2020
The praise continued when Blowers joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy for his weekly segment on Tuesday.
“I think (Shane) Bieber from Cleveland is going to win the Cy Young, but I think Marco deserves a few votes in there. That’s how good he’s been this year,” Blowers said.
The former MLB third baseman added that even though Gonzales is pitching like an All-Star in the shortened 60-game MLB season, he doesn’t see his performance as a fluke.
“I don’t think it’s going to go away,” Blowers said. “I think that Marco has continued to evolve over the last three or four years since he’s had his Tommy John surgery, and he’s gone from somebody that was throwing his fastball in the 90s and everybody knew about his changeup… to where it’s evolved to this cutter and a two-seamer now.
“Command has been excellent. He throws a lot of first-pitch strikes, but they’re quality strikes. He’s not just throwing the ball in the middle of the plate, so he’s getting ahead of a lot of hitters and that certainly has helped. When he’s using his changeup and he can flip that curveball up there at 75, I think that gives a little more life to his fastball, which is going to be 88 to 90, somewhere in that range.”
The changeup was a big part of Gonzales’ stellar outing against the Astros, which hasn’t always been the case this season.
“I’ve made the comment many times this year that his overall command of his fastball and his cutter is as good as I’ve ever seen it, and I thought that was the case last night,” Blowers said. “The one thing that he did, he used his changeup a lot more than he has this year. … I think he must have seen something with their lineup… to where he had to make a change on the fly, and he’s been so good this year, it was an easy change for him. He went to the changeup and he was just rolling along.”
Gonzales might have had the stuff to throw a complete game shutout on Monday, but his night was over after eight innings, maybe because Mariners manager Scott Servais was looking ahead to a final regular season start for him this weekend that could be even more important if Seattle can remain in the playoff race. The Mariners’ ace will take a 7-2 record, 3.06 ERA and 0.91 WHIP into that last outing against the Oakland A’s, who clinched the AL West championship on Monday thanks to Gonzales leading Seattle to the win over Houston.
Check the Tom, Jake and Stacy podcast page to listen to Blowers’ full segment after 4 p.m. Tuesday.