The Closer™. If healthy, Gonzalez is, as I’ve said before, the best reliever in the National League, as he is basically unhittable. He has never been totally healthy, and last year returned from Tommy John surgery with control issues, leading less to walks (which weren’t any higher than they normally are) than to the dreaded “wild in the strike zone” syndrome. Gonzalez had allowed only nine homers entering play in 2008; in just 33 2/3 innings, he allowed six. It usually takes until the second season back to find your control after ligament replacement surgery. He was still awfully tough to hit, and at times looked dominant. But his ERA was above the league, and he was lucky it was as low as 4.28 — he allowed 21 runs, but five were scored “unearned”.
Normally, Gonzalez is death on lefthanders, but last year they slugged .815 against him and hit four of the six homers. One was to Carlos Delgado (the only player with two career homers off him) and one to Ryan Howard. Hey, that happens. But another was to Ryan Langerhans. I mean, come on.
Middle name is “Vela”, which is Spanish for “sailing”. This may be ominous for his slider, but at any rate I think he really needs a rooting section of people in sailor outfits… Gonzalez was slightly more likely to throw that slider last year than previous seasons, which may indicate that he wasn’t confident in his fastball’s velocity being all the way back. Or maybe it’s just chance. That happens.