May 17, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) throws during the first inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals' Gio Gonzalez is ready to come back

The Washington Nationals are in the midst of their second-consecutive up-and-down season. Last year, they underperformed and battled injuries, and they missed the postseason. This year, they are likely performing up to their capabilities, but they’ve once again been struck by injuries. Earlier this week, we put the Nats’ slightly ahead of the middle of the pack in Power Rankings, but for the club to continue their rise, they will need key players back. Gio Gonzalez is one of those players.

Gonzalez has been rehabbing shoulder inflammation in the minors, but he says he’s ready to go. James Wagner of the Washington Post says Gonzalez believes he’s gotten everything he can out of his rehab starts. Some were concerned with Gonzalez’s rough outing in his first rehab game, but all along Gonzalez said his shoulder felt good. In the end, the results of a rehab outing are not necessarily indicative of any real problems. Sometimes a player just can’t get as hyped up for a rehab game. If Gonzalez’s shoulder is truly healed, he should be set to return to the Nationals’ rotation regardless of his recent outing in the minors.

Gonzalez, coupled with Stephen Strasburg, has helped the Nationals’ rotation become a force in the National League East. However, even with Gonzalez injured, Washington’s staff has been incredible. That run likely can’t last, so they need Gonzalez’s talent back in the rotation. With other players like Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper still on the mend, Washington would welcome Gonzalez’s return a one piece of a long-term recovery that could see them battling down to the final week of the season for first place in the National League East.

Prior to his injury, Gonzalez had made nine starts and was not quite as dominant as he had been in years-past. Gonzalez is 3-4 on the season with a 4.62 ERA. However, his career number suggest that as long as he’s healthy, he will turn this year around quickly. In seven Major League seasons, Gonzalez is 73-52 with a 3.64 ERA.

Tags: Gio Gonzalez Washington Nationals

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