The Dodgers defeated the New York Mets 2-0 on Thursday night at Chavez Ravine. It was a tight pitching duel between Tijuan Walker and Dodger’s right hander Tony Gonsolin. The win was memorable since it snapped the club’s three game losing streak (after being swept by the Pirates) but perhaps it’s more memorable for marking the official coming up of catman Tony Gonsolin.
It’s important to recognize when a player figures it out and turns the corner, and Gonsolin has certainly done so this season. Gonsolin was originally a ninth round pick out of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga California. I actually don’t know where Moraga is, but I know where Gonsolin’s 2022 season is heading and it could be in the direction of an all-star appearance or even a trophy.
Gonsolin has been an effective pitcher at times, but I considered him to be slightly better than a minor leaguer. He has had good stuff, but his pitch sequencing was never good. He was never able to avoid the big inning. He was normally consistent in the regular season posting an ERA of 2.93 during his debut season in 2019, and 2.31 in 2020 with good strikeout to walk numbers. However he was horrible in the postseason, posting an ungodly 9.45 ERA across 13.1 frames. I always thought of him as useful to have around for some bulk frames, but never to be ever counted on for big games. Things are changing.
This season the Dodgers have needed him more than ever. Clayton Kershaw has been out since May 13 with a hip injury, and first look free agent Andrew Heany made only two starts before hurting his shoulder (big shock) and landing on the injured list for the rest of the season. While the Dodgers still have Walker Buehler and Julio Urias bolstering the rotation, and the surprisingly effective Tyler Anderson (Thank you Tyler!) but beyond them they essentially have nobody. The depth is so poor that the only other starters are triple-A prospects that would normally be one or two seasons away (Ryan Pepiot, Andre Jackson) or overrated replacement level minor leaguers (Michael Grove) that should never pitch in a major league game for the Dodgers again. If it weren’t for Gonsolin the Dodgers would be in a pitching pickle.
— Ladodgerreport (@Ladodgerreport) June 3, 2022
It seems the brunt of Gonsolin’s new found success has come from an improved slider. It’s become his out-pitch and with the emergence of his slider, the rest of his pitches have become sharper. He’s throwing his slider more than ever and getting a lot of swings and misses, or a lot of grounders. His ground ball percentage of 48.7% is the highest of his career. His flyball percentage is the lowest it’s ever been as is his hard-hit rate. He’s getting more ground balls and allowing less line drives. That’s a recipe for success.
The one area where he had the most difficulty has been length. He would have good outings but rarely pitch past the third or fourth inning in the majority of his starts. This year not only has he been far more efficient, but the Dodgers are stretching him out, and it’s working. So far through ten starts Gonsolin has pitched into the fifth inning in seven of those starts, including his six shutout innings tonight against the Mets. He’s pitched into the sixth inning in five of those starts.
Tonight he was flawless, tossing six shutout frames versus the Mets, allowing just two hits and striking out five. He walked just one and made 89 pitches. He’s now made at least 89 pitches or more (including three appearances in a row where he made 90) in his last four starts and the Dodgers are letting him. You see this is what happens when you let your starters pitch, you get rewarded.
Gonsolin’s season thus far has been the real reward. Overall he is now 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA. He’s struck out 49 and walked just 17 while posting a 0.9 WHIP. He’s kept the ball in the park too, allowing just three home runs in 51 innings of work. Some credit should be given to the Dodger’s amazing coaching staff for pointing Gonsolin in the right direction. Most of all we should be praising the hard work of Tony. He’s had an incredible start to the 2022 season. Kudos to the Catman. He’s been perfection this year.