It had been two years since Marco Gonzales stood on the mound and pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, so to have his outing last shorter than expected was disappointing. At the same time, the fact that he was back on the mound provided encouragement.
“It was beautiful, honestly,” said Gonzales. “I take away a lot from it. I’m really happy just to set foot in this building again and I’m really happy just to throw a baseball in general. I’m very thankful, it’s been a long road back but I’m not done yet. Plenty more to come for sure, I’m excited for my next opportunity.”
After sailing through the order in the first three innings, Gonzales ran into trouble as he gave up home runs to Keon Broxton, Jesus Aguilar, and Travis Shaw.
“That third-fourth inning, started getting behind the count and started elevating my pitches–and as we all know that’s pretty dangerous,” explained Marco. “Unfortunate to say the least, but my arm feels great and that’s a big positive out of it.”
“I believe he’s more well-rounded than the first time we had him over here,” said Mike Matheny. “It was mostly changeup and a hard four-seam fastball on the third base side. He’s using more of a sinker now, he using the breaking ball. I think guys were sitting on certain pitches and getting into counts and getting more of the middle of the plate than he was looking for. But I thought his repertoire looked better. He’s done that a few times now, where we see him get that first time of the order and it’s just been really, really good. Second time through, they’re sitting on pitches and I think he made better pitches that first time through the order.”
“That’s something I’ve been working on coming back,” said Gonzales. “Throwing my sinker to both sides of the plate, being confident in it, and trusting it. The rest of my pitches kind of feed off that. I agree, I think it was a lot better today and honestly, I threw some of my best sinkers of the year tonight. So, a lot of positives in that area.”
An additional left-hander in the bullpen could be a piece of the puzzle Gonzales could fill later this season, but Matheny also hasn’t looked past what Marco could eventually bring as a starter.
“There’s no question, this kid should be a starter,” Matheny said. “As good as his changeup is, he’s going to be good against righties. As good as his control is, he should be able to mix that sinker in that is going to be good to lefties and righties. We had that conversation again after the game about trust your breaking ball. His breaking ball is better than what he thinks it is–that’s going to be a necessity for him to have continued success against the lefties and also keep the righties off his changeup and four-seamer. He has what he needs, I think it’s just–it’s another example of how much different it is here than it is at the triple-A level.
“Guys make quicker adjustments. Might not be till the third time through the lineup there and by then, he’s got six innings under his belt. It’s been obvious here, second time through, guys are sitting. And it really doesn’t matter who’s catching him or what the game plan is. They’re picking up when he’s showing just a limited style of pitching and number of pitches to be willing to throw.”