t’s rare, but once in a long, long while, everybody does in fact win.
The A’s radically remade their pitching staff with three major trades over the winter, leading to multiple appearances of the word “rebuilding” in descriptions of Billy Beane’s offseason. The Nationals were happy to take advantage, shipping four prospects to Oakland in order to add high-upside but sometimes erratic lefty Gio Gonzalez.
About 8 1/2 months later, it’s quite clear that neither side should have any regrets. The Athletics’ makeover bore fruit much sooner than expected, as the pieces they received in the three deals have helped propel Oakland into surprise Wild Card contention. And the Nats? They have the National League’s best record, thanks in large part to a breakthrough season by Gonzalez.
In fact, Gonzalez has emerged as a contender for the title of the Nationals’ best starting pitcher, and not just in the non-Stephen Strasburg division. And if you’re the best pitcher on the Nats this year, you’re in the running for best pitcher in the league. Cy Young Award talk is starting to build for Gonzalez, who ranks in the top 10 in the NL in ERA, strikeouts, WHIP and wins.
“He’s been unbelievable all year long,” said Washington shortstop Ian Desmond. “He’s consistent. I think that’s one of the most important things for the Cy Young. You’ve got to be able to give your team a chance to win. He’s done that and beyond. He’s nasty. I wouldn’t want to face him. I’d give him the Cy Young right now.”