PHILADELPHIA -- Left-hander Michael Gonzalez went from ineffective in April to being the Brewers' pitcher of the month for May, and credited Mother Nature for his renewed success.
Asked what fueled his turnaround, Gonzalez said, "The weather, definitely. We had cold weather, and the body isn't good with that. I've always liked it to heat up. Just joking with the players, we just can't wait until it starts getting hot. Everything just starts feeling better. That's definitely what it is.
"I just know my body and what I do. That cold weather is tough, especially right out of the chute. It's different in October. But when you're starting out the year, those Chicago games, those are tough because you can't feel your fingers. As soon as it starts heating up and getting a little humid, I love that."
Whatever it was, the numbers say Gonzalez was a different pitcher against the left-handed hitters he's paid to retire. In April, Gonzalez faced 18 lefty batters and they hit at a .353 clip, with one walk and four strikeouts. In May, he faced 27 left-handed batters and they hit just .154 with one walk and 12 strikeouts.
He did not allow a run in his final 11 appearances in May. He edged fellow reliever Burke Badenhop for Brewers pitcher of the month honors in a vote of beat reporters, broadcasters and club officials.
The challenge for Gonzalez, who turned 35 a week ago, is to sustain his recent success. He appeared in a team-high 30 games in April and May and is on a pace for more than 90 appearances this season. Gonzalez made a career-high 80 appearances for the Braves in 2009.
"We'll see what happens," manager Ron Roenicke said. "So far, the bullpen has changed a lot from what I expected and how I've used guys. Some of that is because guys have pitched really well, and some of it is because guys haven't. That will continue to change."
One potential change is coming as soon as June 9, when closer Jim Henderson is eligible to return from the disabled list. Henderson stayed back in Milwaukee when the Brewers went on the road and has made progress with his strained right hamstring, according to assistant GM Gord Ash.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.