The Milwaukee Brewers have had bad luck with their starting pitchers in 2018. Having lost both Brent Suter and Jimmy Nelson to season-ending injuries. Milwaukee watched their NL Central lead dwindle and eventually vanish, eventually landing them all the way back in third place and five games behind the division-leading Cubs and just right around two games behind the rejuvenated Cardinals backed by sudden MVP candidate Matt Carpenter. The Brewers needed to make a move to shore up their rotation, and they saw Gio Gonzalez as the man to get.
Consistency is key
You can't talk about Gio Gonzalez without using the term "consistency". He's on his way to making at least 31 starts in nine of his last ten seasons, with the only outlier being his 27-start season in 2014. Over 27 starts for the Nationals this season, soon to be 33-year-old Gonzalez is 7-11 with a 4.57 ERA, 126 strikeouts, 70 free passes, 15 home runs allowed, and a slightly inflated 1.53 WHIP. These numbers aren't helped by a .319 BABIP, 24 points higher than his career average, but he's been able to limit hard contact to 30.6%. Although his numbers are underwhelming, his durability shouldn't be taken lightly. The Brewers desperately needed starting pitching depth, and Gonzalez will no doubt provide some solid outings for the "Brew Crew" down the stretch.
The return package
In return for sending Gonzalez to Milwaukee, Washington will acquire two minor league players. The better of the two prospects is C/1B KJ Harrison. Harrison, who just turned 22 years old in early August, was drafted by the Indians in the 25th round of the 2014 draft but didn't sign, and was later drafted by the Brewers in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft and signed on with them. Harrison was the owner of a solid .308 average last season in rookie ball with 10 home runs and 33 RBI, but his average has dipped significantly to .228 in 115 games at A-ball this season. However, he's still hit 12 home runs and drive in 51 runners. Harrison has seen plenty of time at both first base and catcher, playing 43 games at catcher and 54 games at first base. His solid 6'0", 208lb frame is perfect to fit behind home plate, and assuming the 22-year-old grows into his frame more, his home run prowess should only become more prevalent.
The other prospect heading to the Nationals is 20-year-old SS/3B Gilbert Lara. Lara, who signed with the Brewers for over $3m in 2014 as an international free agent, has yet to be promoted past A-ball. He is 6'4", 198lbs but hasn't really wowed scouts in any category in his career to this point. He has only hit at a .237/.274/.324 triple slash, and only has 11 home runs, 127 RBI, and a relatively poor .598 OPS in 305 career Minor League games. One thing Lara has going for him is his age. At only 20 years old, he's got plenty of time to figure himself out and produce at the Major League level.
Time to make a run
The Nationals have officially thrown in the proverbial towel, having traded many key components of the team. The Brewers, however, will surely thank them if Gio Gonzalez can aid them in their attempt at a bid for a Wild Card spot, and maybe even an outside shot at the NL Central crown. Meanwhile, the Nationals were able to get quite a decent pull for Gonzalez, pulling in a couple young prospects who could one day make an impact for the Nats. What both teams will agree on, however, is they both made good moves to address how they plan to go into the final month of the season, even if they're trending in opposite directions.