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Before I get into Washington Nationals star pitcher Gio Gonzalez and his achievements, I would like to acknowledge the success of the the team as a whole so far this season.

Washington is off to an unbelievable start in its effort to win the division, as Gonzalez pitched six solid innings to become the Majors’ first 19-game winner in a 5-1 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field on Monday night.

The Nationals are now 6 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-1, on Monday. The magic number to win the NL East stands at 15. Unlike his previous two starts, Gonzalez wasn’t dominant, but he did enough to break a tie with Tuesday’s Mets starter, R.A. Dickey, for the big league lead in victories.

Gonzalez needs one victory to become the first player in Nationals history to win 20 games, and the first in franchise history since Ross Grimsley in 1978 to win 20 in a season.

According to MLB.com writer Bill Ladson, Nationals manager Davey Johnson went on to say that Gonzalez deserves to be a Cy Young Award candidate. Gonzalez most likely will battle Dickey the rest of the way for the award. It’s a no-brainer to Johnson who should win the award.

“Dickey did get a lot of attention. But you are talking about a last-place club,” Johnson said. “It’s a little different when you are on top and getting all those things.”

Johnson makes a great point for Gio’s chance at winning the Cy Young. Dickey is indeed having a great year, but as Johnson mentioned, the Mets are in last place.

Here are the top pitchers in the Nationals in consideration for the NL CY Young Award:

NL CY Young Candidates (as of today):

1. Gio Gonzalez, Was 2012 Stats: 19-7 2.93 E.R.A. 191 Strikeouts
2. R.A. Dickey, NYM 2012 Stats: 18-5 2.68 E.R.A. 197 Strikeouts
3. Johnny Cueto, Cin 2012 Stats: 17-8 2.71 E.R.A 155 Strikeouts
4. Stephen Strasburg, Was 2012 Stats: 15-6 3.16 E.R.A 197 Strikeouts
5. Clayton Kershaw, LAD 2012 Stats: 12-9 2.70 E.R.A 206 Strikeouts

It is clear the debate comes down to Dickey and Gonzalez. I feel that since Dickey plays for the last place Mets, that will hurt his chances. In reality it shouldn’t but it does. It’s just how baseball goes. You never know how things will pan out, so be on the lookout to see who wins the Cy Young. It will be between Dickey and Gonzalez – believe that!

I understand the Nationals also have pitchers Jordan Zimmerman and Strasburg, which may hurt Gonzalez’ chances on winning the Cy Young since the Nationals have more reasons than Gonzalez for their success. It’s called “splitting the vote”.

Related: Why Stop at Stephen Strasburg? It's Time For the Nationals to Shut Down Jordan Zimmermann

The A’s radically remade their pitching staff with three major trades over the winter, leading to multiple appearances of the word “rebuilding” in descriptions of Billy Beane’s offseason. The Nationals were happy to take advantage, shipping four prospects to Oakland in order to add high-upside but sometimes erratic lefty Gonzalez.

According to MLB.com writer Matthew Leach, he feels months later it’s quite clear that neither side should have any regrets. The Athletics’ makeover bore fruit much sooner than expected, as the pieces they received in the three deals have helped propel the Oakland Athletics into surprise Wild Card contention. And the Nats? They have the National League’s best record, thanks in large part to a breakthrough season by Gonzalez.

Cy Young Award talk is starting to build for Gonzalez,who ranks in the top 10 in the NL in ERA, strikeouts, WHIP and wins.

Although the Nationals knew they were acquiring a quality pitcher, it’s likely that even they didn’t realize exactly what they had on their hands. Gonzalez began harnessing his control and the results have been remarkable.

Already a 200-inning workhorse with big strikeout numbers, Gonzalez has cut his walk rate significantly. He’s one of the biggest reasons why, even with Strasburg shut down, there’s reason to believe the Nationals can go deep in October.

I don’t know about you, but I am excited to see how Gio and the Nationals do in the playoffs without Strasburg. It will be an intense and competitive playoffs this year. You can bank on that!

In the meantime, whether or not Gonzalez gets a ring this year, chances are that he will be taking some hardware home soon if he keeps pitching at this pace.

This article was originally published at MLB Reports.  

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