Weight: 213 lbs.
2009 Age: 31
The Cobra is ready to pitch a full season now. It will be fully appreciated by the Braves.
Last season, Gonzalez started the year still on the mend from Tommy John surgery. The Braves tried a lot of pitchers at closer, including Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano, Jeff Bennett and Manny Acosta. Gonzalez finally returned on June 18, pitching a scoreless inning against the Rangers. He continued to serve as the Braves' closer, going 14-16 in save opportunities.
THE STREAK IS OVER: Gonzalez blew the save against Colorado on September 9 thanks to Garrett Atkins. That was Gonzalez's first blown save since June 25, 2004 against Cincinnati. He converted 38 straight save opportunities over four seasons.
LACK OF SAVES, BUT NOT FOR LACK OF TRYING: When Gonzalez converted his fourth save on July 18th, he became the Braves' team leader in that category. No other Brave had more than three saves up to that point.
HOME NOT SWEET HOME OR FUN WITH SMALL SAMPLE SIZES, PART FIVE: In front of the home crowd in 2008, Gonzalez was pounded a few times. He was 0-2 with six saves, but he had a 7.27 ERA in 17 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed 19 hits and 19 total runs. However, he walked just nine and struck out 30 batters.
My Outlook: As long as Gonzalez can pitch, he will be the Braves' closer. They don't have anyone good enough to replace him. Soriano can't do it very well. Maybe Moylan could, but he has very limited experience in the role. I'm looking forward (and hoping) for a full season from Mike. A final note: If the Braves aren't in contention by July, Gonzalez will most likely be traded.
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