Preview: Brewers vs. Giants
MILWAUKEE — A week after Gio Gonzalez was acquired from the Washington Nationals, the veteran left-hander will make his Milwaukee Brewers debut Saturday when he takes the mound against the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park.
Gonzalez has looked little like the pitcher who finished in the top 10 of National League Cy Young voting a year ago. In 27 starts for the Nationals, he was 7-11 with a 4.57 ERA and had just one victory since May 28.
The Brewers still had an interest, hoping he could provide depth down the stretch — as well as a left-handed starting option — as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
“We acquired him to have another good pitcher and because you don’t know what’s going to happen in this month,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s his turn to go help us try to win a game.”
Gonzalez hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 29, when he allowed six runs in five innings but took a no-decision as the Nationals fell to the Phillies. He will have 10 days off before returning to action Saturday but isn’t worried about any kind of rust factor.
He also has used the downtime to his advantage, working extensively with Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson.
“I don’t want to use any excuses,” Gonzalez said. “The way I see it is just give me the ball and I’m going to try and give you 100 percent of my talent. I’ll take the ball, make my pitches and try to get some outs. Rely on my defense and rely on our offense.
“Hopefully, I can keep us in the game.”
Gonzalez is 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 14 career starts against the Giants, including an 0-1 record and 7.56 ERA in two starts this season.
He will face a lineup likely to be without shortstop Brandon Crawford, who was held out of Bruce Bochy’s starting lineup for a second straight day on Friday because of a sore knee that kept him out of three games last week as well.
Right-hander Chris Stratton takes the mound against the Brewers, who tagged him for three runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief back earlier this season.
Stratton took the loss his last time out despite holding the Mets to two runs in six innings but is 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA in his last three starts.
He’s part of a group that has posted the third-best ERA in baseball since June 1 (3.37 heading into the series) but has been stymied by an offense that has struggled to generate runs.
“They give us a chance, but you see the numbers; it’s just been tough since June 1 with the offense,” Bochy said. “A couple of guys getting hot, driving in runs, that’s what we’re missing.
“Somebody’s got to do that for you to win ballgames. That’s what we’re missing.”