Brewers Come to Terms With Mike Gonzalez

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and Jim Bowden of ESPN, the Brewers have come to terms with left-handed relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez on a one-year, $2.250 million contract, pending a physical examination after New Year’s Day.

The signing comes roughly a week after Milwaukee’s acquisition of southpaw reliever Tom Gorzelanny.

Gonzalez, 34, appeared in 47 games for the Washington Nationals’ bullpen last season, posting a 3.03 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, striking out 39 batter to walking just 16. He was noticeably effective against left-handed hitters, holding them to a combined .179/.257/.269 slash line.

A true two-pitch reliever, Gonzalez relies on a heavy dosage of four-seam fastballs (91-93 MPH) and sliders (80-82 MPH) to hold batters in check, though he does occasionally throw in a changeup (80-83 MPH) and sinker (89-91 MPH) every so often. He doesn’t maintain one true “out pitch;” his four-seamer held batters to a true-average (TAv) of .292 last season, with his slider holding them to a .273 TAv.

With a ground-ball rate of just 39.8 percent last season, Gonzalez relies heavily on the fly-ball to be effective. Furthermore, he should be considered more of a ‘contact’ pitcher who relies on his command to get batters out, rather than simply overpowering them. He knows how to produce a good deal of pop-ups, as well, as evidenced by a splendid infield fly-ball rate (IFFB) of 20% last season.

The only drawback to Gonzalez’s pitch-to-contact style of approach is that when the ball is put in play, batters generally have success. Opponents put up a .322/.319/.456 slash line against Gonzalez last season on balls in play, according to Baseball-Reference.

Even so, Brewers fans should not  expect Gonzalez to be a long-distance reliever, so to speak, and more of a bullpen specialist who works almost exclusively against left-handed hitters.

It should be interesting to see how this signing effects Milwaukee’s spring training 40-man roster, and more specifically how it might reshape the opening-day bullpen depth chart.

Prior to the signing, projected the Brewers’ bullpen to be comprised of John Axford, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Jesus Sanchez, Gorzelanny, Burke Badenhop and Josh Stinson. With Gonzelez in the fold, there is a decent chance either Bradenhop or Stinson, both right-handers, could get the boot to triple-A Nashville.

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