If you are just waking up Gio Gonzalez has been linked to a PED clinic. It might be nothing. Then again, there aren't many other names included on this list and ones that are included Alex Rodriguez (admitted user), Bartolo Colon (suspended 2012), and Melky Cabrera (suspended 2012) so it doesn't look good. Still innocent until suspended.
What we want to know is if Gio is supsended how big an impact losing Gio for 50 games would mean for 2013. 50 games is roughly 30% of the season, meaning Gio would miss roughly 10 starts. That's a pretty big loss.
Of course he wouldn't be replaced by no one. With Gorzo gone, the thought might be that Zack Duke would take up this role, but that doesn't seem likely to me. He is scheduled to be the lone lefty in the pen. He hasn't been a starter since early in 2010. It just seems like work. Christian Garcia is an interesting idea, but just that, and idea. We've talked about how a 2-time TJ surgery reliever shouldn't be pressed immediately into a starting role (probably shouldn't be pressed into a starting role at all). Instead we'd likely have a Spring Training battle with Yunesky Maya being the strong favorite to win.
Maya pitched a lot better in AAA last year than in previous years. 1.186 WHIP, 40 walks in 167 IP. But he's still not that good. 20 homers. Only 89 Ks. A crazy low BABIP .258 that's unlikely to be repeated. But the thing is there isn't anyone after that. Would you rather Tanner Roark? Jeff Mandel? Until you get to A-ball it's a parade of never-weres.
If Maya does pitch and is bad, what does that cost the Nats? Since we are using last year as the baseline and last year Gio was
awesome, that's going to be somewhere between 1-2 wins total. I know that doesn't seem like a lot but you have to look at the big picture. There are some games the Nats aren't going to lose no matter who is on the mound. They are that good. Gio might win them 8-2 while Maya gets a win 8-5 but it's still a win. There are going to be a couple games too in those 10 that it doesn't matter who pitches, the Nats will lose. They get shutout, Maya or Gio, they still lose that game. So it's only a handful of games where it actually matters who's the pitcher and to say the Nats win 1-2 more games with Gio than Maya in those handful, that's actually saying it's a big difference between the two.
You can see though, other than being the first step down a slippery slope, a long suspension for Gio would not derail the Nats on it's own. But if you are super scared there is a FA option. No, not Kyle Lohse. If he was willing to walk from the Cardinals he's not coming to the Nats on some small deal. No, I mean Joe Saunders, who wants a multi-year deal, but is now sitting looking at a 1yr deal from Minnesota. He's not great or anything but he's better than Maya. He's AL-> NL. I'm not saying this is the best idea, but if you are desperate to get as many wins as possible it might be a way to go.
Either way now we sit and wait and hope for nothing