Closing Time: Could Marwin Gonzalez be a real thing?

Marwin Gonzalez, hot to trot

I feel like we’ve already seen this Marwin Gonzalez story in Houston before. Remember the joy Luis Valbuena gave us two years ago? Position versatility, occasional pop, consistent strikeouts. Perhaps Gonzalez can give us a fun ride too, even if it’s for a short time.

Gonzalez is certainly hot right now — if you even believe in things like the hot hand (do your own Internet search, you’ll find smart people on the pro and con side). He’s on a 9-for-19 rampage, with five home runs, over his last six games. A .246 average doesn’t sound like much, but he’s also carrying a .352 OBP (solid) and a .672 slugging percentage (outstanding).

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What I especially love about Gonzalez is his versatility. He qualifies at every spot except pitcher and catcher. The perfect name on a short-slate day; slide him anywhere you need him.


Obviously Gonzalez’s absurd HR/FB rate is completely unsustainable, but I’m curious to see what happens with his plate discipline. His strikeouts are down slightly, and his walk rate has tripled. Sometimes that’s the type of thing that underscores growth in a hitter. And, to be fair, sometimes that turns out to be a false window — see Colby Rasmus from April 2016. Full disclosure, I was a Rasmus believer a year ago, to my detriment.

I want to be clear on Gonzalez — I’m not climbing a mountain and planting a flag here. I’m just saying it’s worth it to give him a short-leash trial on the very end of your depth chart. I cut Andrelton Simmons for him in one league. If Gonzalez quickly fizzles, fine — maybe I get Simmons back, or go in another direction. Baseball is a funny game. Player skills and values are fluid.

At this time last year, Trevor Story and Aledmys Diaz were hitting like crazy. Both went on to have excellent years. Jean Segura looked like a fluke to many, but he wasn’t. Odubel Herrera lasted all season; Jonathan Villar did, too. And there were the false positives, players like Rasmus and Travis Shaw. You can find evidence on both sides.

Anyone can scream “Regression!” and walk away, knowing they’ll be right. Gonzalez can’t be this good, because nobody is this good, and there’s a skimpy track record in his corner. But regression should be the start of the conversation, not the end of one.

I’ve added a few Gonzalez shares, with the idea that it will be on an extremely short leash. I’ve used him in a few winning DFS lineups of late. He’s batted as high as .279 before, shown us double-digit power and speed before. Maybe this can advance past a short, hot streak. Who’s with me?

Later, Landsdowne Street

• If you’ve been temped to add Eduardo Rodriguez but don’t trust left-handers in Fenway, you’re about to get a big break. Rodriguez’s next three starts come on the road — at Minnesota, at Milwaukee, at St. Louis. Throw that 2.70 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in a suitcase, away we go.

It’s a balanced set of opponents — Milwaukee has been crushing the ball, Minnesota middle of the pack, St. Louis off to a slow start. We’ll see how the porridge tastes in May.

If you don’t trust Rodriguez’s front-door stats, that’s reasonable. The strikeout rate is almost 12/9, but he’s walking too many batters (14 in 23.1 innings). FIP suggests a 4.42 ERA, xFIP says 3.97. His strand rate is unsustainably high.

But I’m always intrigued when a strikeout rate gets this juicy, and E-Rod’s turn against the Cubs was a daisy (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K). We’re also chasing a pedigree here. If you’re willing to give it a spin, Rodriguez is available in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues.

• We’re still sorting through small samples, need to be careful with conclusions. But take a look at Charlie Morton’s home and road splits through six starts. He’s been brilliant in his four home turns (2.63 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 27 K, 6 BB) and shaky in two road starts (7.20 ERA, 1.90 WHIP).

Morton’s long been known as a ground-ball ace, so it’s odd to see him striking out better than a batter per inning. For the time being, let’s make him a preferred streamer for those Houston starts. He hosts Atlanta next week (good), then heads to Yankee Stadium (duck; here comes The Judge).

Adrian Gonzalez has been showing old-man skills — perhaps injured, old-man skills — all year. He’s yet to homer. A .255/.327/.309 slash looks out of place anywhere, especially at first base.

The Dodgers admit Gonzalez is playing through a herniated disc in his back. Why isn’t Gonzalez already on the 10-day DL, with the rest of the free world? Apparently it’s a matter of pride. Gonzalez has never hit the disabled list before, and the team, for now, is letting him extend that streak.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

In the meantime, Cody Bellinger owners can sit back, relax. He’s off to a snappy .303/.361/.586 start with two homers through nine games. Nothing is guaranteed, but it sure looks like he’ll be sticking with the team — in part because a Gonzalez DL stint feels inevitable.