Buried in the melancholy and disappointment of the 2016 White Sox season has been a small, quiet story of a journeyman pitcher who stared down a path that would lead to more waiver wires, non-guaranteed deals and the likely end of his career, and turned it around.
Miguel Gonzalez, the former Mexican League hurler who waited until age 28 to make his major league debut, wrapped up a 2016 season Wednesday night that will stand up nicely alongside the best of his career.
1. Improbably sticking through an hour and fourteen-minute rain delay that began in the middle of the bottom of the third inning, Gonzalez spun 8.1 innings of shutout ball in his season finale. The Rays lineup is not the most fearsome in the league, but Gonzalez still nicked the edges of the zone with his fastball and cutter all night, striking out five and walking none. Despite being at the end of the year, Gonzalez touched 93 mph with ease, and breezed through six 1-2-3 innings, only eclipsing 100 pitches in the ninth, and probably only being pulled because the Sox were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
2. That 1-0 lead came from a single swing from Todd Frazier, who launched his 40th home run of the season off a floating knuckleball from Eddie Gamboa in the seventh, continuing the fraught history of Gamboas at U.S. Cellular Field. Gamboa mostly cruised through the three innings of relief he delivered after starter Blake Snell‘s night ended with the rain delay, but ended the night cursing himself because this game had no margin for error.
3. David Robertson came on in the ninth to replace Gonzalez and threw one pitch, and got a game-ending double play for his 37th save. This is good work, the model of efficiency, and everyone should strive to match this production level.
4. Gonzalez’s season wrapped with 135 innings of 3.73 ERA, flashing excellent control and positive adjustment to Don Cooper’s preferred stylings of standing tall and throwing cutters. He’s someone any team would be happy to give a rotation spot, after being on the late-Spring Training waiver wire in March.
5. The Sox have four more games against awful teams, and if they win all of them they will avoid their fourth-straight losing season.
Team Record: 77-81
Next game is Thursday at 7:10pm CT vs. Tampa Bay on CSN
Lead Image Credit: David Banks // USA Today Sports Images