Chicago White Sox: Miguel Gonzalez’s Start Isn’t Surprising

Jul 30, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (58) pitches to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (58) pitches to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Miguel Gonzalez gave the Chicago White Sox a quality start against the Minnesota Twins, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The Chicago White Sox spoiled the Minnesota Twins perfect season with a 6-2 win at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday afternoon to improve to 2-2 on the season.

In the battle of each team’s fifth starter — once Carlos Rodon returns Miguel Gonzalez will be the Sox fifth starter again — the White Sox forced Twins’ starter Adalberto Mejía to exit the game after giving up three run (two earned) in 1.2 innings. The Twins didn’t have the same luck, as Miguel Gonzalez threw six solid innings for Chicago.

In his six innings of work, Gonzalez allowed two earned runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out six batters. He had a shutout heading into the sixth inning before Jason Castro hit a two-run home run to bring Minnesota within a run of the White Sox.

It wasn’t a perfect start for Gonzalez, but he looked sharp in his first action of 2017. He allowed base runners in all but one inning but was able to get himself out of jams and not allow Minnesota to cross the plate.

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Minnesota finished the game 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in large part to only going 1-for-8 against Gonzalez. His ability to pitch out of jams kept the White Sox in the game.

It started in the first inning when Minnesota looked poised to take an early lead. Gonzalez loaded the bases with only one out before getting Jorge Polanco and Castro to ground out to end the inning.

A hit, or seemingly anything out of the infield, would have driven in at least one run. Gonzalez was able to keep the ball on the ground, though, giving Todd Frazier a chance to throw Brian Dozier out at the plate for the second out.

In three of the next four innings, Gonzalez allowed a double. Eddie Rosario hit one with one out in the second inning, Byron Buxton hit one with two outs in the fourth inning, and Dozier’s double came in the fifth inning with one out. Minnesota proceeded to go 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a walk to keep his shutout intact.

Even though Gonzalez is at the end of Chicago’s rotation, and not widely considered a great pitcher around the league, this start should come as no surprise. Now in his sixth MLB season, the 32-year-old starting pitcher has been consistently very good throughout his career 125 appearances and 118 starts.

He’s not going to make the All-Star team or be in the Cy Young discussion, but he almost always gives you a chance to win. At the end of the rotation, that’s all you’re really looking for. That is why the White Sox experienced starting rotation has a chance to surprise people this year.

Gonzalez’s 3.73 ERA with the White Sox over 23 starts and 24 appearances in 2016 marked the fourth time in five seasons his ERA has been under 4.00, with him pitching at least 135 innings in all but his rookie season. Also, Gonzalez’s 1.237 WHIP was the third lowest mark of his career, and the fourth time its been below 1.300.

The only significant difference between his start on Saturday and his career numbers is that he struck out six batters in six innings but only averages 6.4 K/9 in his career. Minnesota entered the game just 18th in strikeouts and leading the league in walks, which makes Gonzalez’s control even more impressive.

Gonzalez also pitched very well in his lone start against Minnesota last season. He only gave up one earned run in seven innings, striking out five.

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He joins James Shields as the only two White Sox starters to start the season with a win. Now, Jose Quintana, who pitches in the rubber match tomorrow, is the only starter with an ERA above 3.00 after their first start for the White Sox.