Baltimore residents have looked at their milk cartons every day and staring back at them is a picture of Miguel Gonzalez. He's been missing the entire Orioles playoff experience yet will pitch in the most important game of the series against the Royals for better or for worse. Monday I wrote about how the Royals should start Jason Vargas over Jeremy Guthrie, but I have no qualms with the Orioles choosing Gonzalez over Chris Tillman or any other rotation candidate. That is largely due to the fact that I am a Royals fan and Buck Showalter pitching Miguel Gonzalez increases the Royals odds of winning.
Gonzalez is in his 3rd year of wearing the Orioles black and orange. Gonzalez came to Baltimore by way of being Rule 5 selected by Boston then signing a minor league deal with Baltimore after his Tommy John Surgery. Up until his age 28 season, Gonzalez had not seen any major league action.
Here's you list of 28 year old rookies since 2000 that pitched 100+ innings their first year:
Not a long list and as you'd imagine not a ton of successful pitchers there other than RA Dickey who we all can agree is an exception to every rule in baseball. The list of 28 year old rookie pitchers with no minimum amount of innings pitched looks even uglier (Dusty Hughes, Jeff Fulchino, and Victor Marte all appear for the Royals).
By runs allowed Gonzalez had a good season. His 3.23 ERA would be Top 30 if we set the innings minimum at 150 and a 3.5 win pitcher by RA9-WAR. Much like our former Orioles pitcher Guthrie, where Gonzalez struggles is his peripherals. His ERA (3.23) outpaces his FIP (4.89) by more than a run and a half this year and more than a run over his entire career. He's bottom 20 in K/9, and bottom 30 in BB/9. Meanwhile he's got one of the league worst HR/9 at 1.42. As you would imagine a home run prone pitcher would be, Gonzalez doesn't get many groundballs and is bottom 15 in that category.
Gonzalez is a heavy fastball pitcher who doesn't really have a good fastball. His average FB velocity is 91.2 MPH for his career and this year it's been worth -11.2 runs below average.
The closest career comp I can find using just peripherals (K/9, BB/9, HR/9, GB%) to Gonzalez is Freddy Garcia.
Gonzalez has pitched 18.2 innings against the Royals in his career compiling a 4.82 ERA with 9 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 20 hits.
At Kauffman he's made just one appearance where he lasted 4.2 innings, allowing 6 earned runs on 8 hits while striking out none and walking one.
So short of rolling out Milt Pappas, allowing Cal Ripken Jr to pitch, or reviving the body of Willie Sudhoff, the Royals have the best realistic pitching matchup against Baltimore they could ask for.
Your odds for today's game:
Fangraphs (with only KC's lineup) - 61.6% KC 38.4% BAL
PECOTA: 55.5% KC 45.5% BAL