Is Gio Gonzalez taking lessons from Dallas Braden?
Is it possible that Dallas Braden's masterpiece has made us under-value any other pitching performance by an A's pitcher this year? Let's get this out of the way: There won't be another perfect game thrown this year, let alone by an A's starter. I can be fairly confident with that assertion. Now that we got that out of the way, let's give Gio Gonzalez his dues. The guy retired the last 20 batters he faced, allowing only two hits and a walk in eight innings. He also struck out five while throwing just 95 pitches.
Now five strikeouts isn't a ridiculously high number, but to go eight innings throwing only 95 pitches, while striking out five is impressive. That means Gio had to throw at least three pitches per at-bat at least five times, and during those at-bats, he ended up throwing more than three. What does this mean? For the most part, Gio did a fantastic job of finding the zone, not trying to overpower batters, and inducing outs. The one walk is a tribute to this. Speaking of tributes, let's revisit Braden for a minute. Maybe we shouldn't compare any performance to the perfecto as fans, but it's a great thing to learn from as a teammate. Gio has allowed his control to get out of hand in the past, trying to over-dominate batters. Maybe some 209 has rubbed off on him though, or maybe he's just maturing. I'm going to go with both. After the game Gio said: "Dallas Braden set the tone. We all try to follow in those footsteps." Wait there's more: "I felt great just going out there pounding the strike zone."
It sounds like Gio is prescribing to a new faith: Bradenism. Or as some might refer to it, Stocktonianism. Or maybe 209ism. Or maybe Dallasism. Or maybe just good, smart, and effective pitching.
I'm going with all of the above. To those outside of Oakland (A-Rod, a few dozen New York headlines, etc.), Dallas is nothing more than an average pitcher who wants his 15 minutes of fame. Even if he's average on the mound, he's much more of a presence in the clubhouse. I think Gio would attest to that.