Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE
Last night was the first time I decided to take Miguel Gonzalez seriously. That doesn't speak particularly highly of me, I suppose. But consider the minor league veteran who sat out of the game for two years with knee and elbow problems, who bounced around as an org guy for the Red Sox, and who then finally just came out of nowhere to a 2.61 ERA in six games (three starts). Who was now being talked about as a savior to this quickly fading competitive season.
Basically, he was the new Chris Waters. Waters bounced around the minors until he showed an Orioles team with need just enough. He came up and threw an impressive game in Anaheim for his major league debut. He had a couple more good looking games, too, as the Orioles came down the stretch. But Chris Waters never really developed past being an org guy, and now he's playing up the interstate for the York Revolution.
Miguel Gonzalez, for what it's worth, has an ERA that is approaching 5.00 and a walk rate and affinity for home runs that won't work long-term, so discretion is warranted.
Regardless, last night I had to take Gonzalez seriously. He forced me to. The Yankees are often the team that exposes these fringe guys - Waters first got to see them in the last game at the second Yankee Stadium, and he gave up five runs all earned while walking twice as many as he struck out - but Gonzalez looked downright uninterested in that noise. His change-up was a revelation, and he got over twice as many swings and misses last night as he did in any other game so far this season.
Unfortunately, this was one game, and as good as parts of his game looked, he still gave up three home runs. None of them were those infamous Yankee Stadium cheap home runs, either. Two of them came on fastballs to those two "serious power hitters" Ichiro and Eric Chavez (total home runs combined this season: 14). The other came when Raul Ibanez got a hold of one of those change-ups.
I'm still skeptical. You should be, too. By far the most likely outcome of all of this is that Gonzalez ends up back out of the major leagues. Maybe the very best case scenario is that the Orioles have a serviceable fifth starter or the next Dana Eveland, which isn't especially impressive sounding. But no matter what, this much at least I can tell you: we all had one night with a wild diving change-up and some dumb looking Yankee hitters chasing after it. That's a net win.