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Pirates All-40: A Lot Being Asked of Marco Gonzales

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Marco Gonzales, Pittsburgh Pirates

This is one in a series of stories breaking down members of the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster.

Marco Gonzales is coming off of a challenging 2023 campaign after stringing together a series of reliable and durable seasons with the Seattle Mariners.

From 2018-22, Gonzales was a key component in the Mariners’ rotation. In those four seasons, the left-hander combined to go 56-45 with a 3.96 ERA across 131 starts. Over that span, only four American League pitchers made more starts — Gerrit Cole, José Berríos and Lucas Giolito.

Gonzales led baseball with 34 starts in 2019 and topped 200 innings on the year. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he posted the lowest walks-per-nine rate (0.9).

This past year in Seattle, Gonzales was limited to 11 starts. He sustained an injury to his pitching arm that resulted in season-ending elbow surgery in August. When he was on the mound, the veteran struggled to the tune of a 5.22 ERA, though there are indicators he pitched better than that.

Seattle entered the offseason in salary-shedding mode and shipped Gonzales to the Atlanta Braves as part of a larger package. Gonzales was quickly flipped by the Braves to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations at the Winter Meetings last month.

The Pirates will now rely on Gonzales to help a suspect starting rotation. Mitch Keller is the only returning starting pitcher who logged significant innings from a season ago. Johan Oviedo is already out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November.

Gonzales is joined by free agent left-hander Martín Pérez as external additions this winter. Even with the pair of southpaws in the fold, the Pirates are still searching for another addition to their rotation.

Even so, the Pirates will be asking for an awful lot from Gonzales in 2024. Coming off of a substantial injury and a year in which he logged only 50 innings, the Pirates would ideally like to see his workload increase three-fold, if not more.

Though there is risk in asking for that much out of Gonzales this coming season, the nearly-32-year-old is up for the challenge.

“I think I go out and set the tone for a team, take the ball every five days, and my goal is to put up at least 190, maybe even 200 innings this year,” when meeting with members of the media. “That’s my goal. Make every start, be healthy and I know that I’m very, very capable of doing that.”

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