Tony Gonsolin

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Anthony D. Gonsolin

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Biographical Information[edit]

Tony Gonsolin made quite a name for himself when he broke into the majors. With the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019, he appeared in 11 games (of which 6 were starts) and posted a 4-2 record with a 2.93 ERA and a WHIP of 1.025. He looked even better in 2020, with a 2-2 record in 9 games, an ERA of 2.31 and a WHIP of 0.836. Both his ERA and WHIP in 2020 were close to those of the team's star pitcher, Clayton Kershaw.

Tony was born in Vacaville, CA and went to Saint Mary's College of California. He was drafted in the 9th round of the 2016 Amateur Draft and pitched in the minors from 2016-2019. He blossomed in 2018, with an ERA of 2.60 compiled during a season split between A+ and AA ball. In 2019, he spent part of the season with the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers, putting up an ERA of 4.35 in a run-heavy environment - the team's overall ERA was 5.83.

On July 30, 2019, he did something quite rare in this day and age, which was to record a four-inning save for the Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies. He came in the 6th inning in relief of Julio Urias and Casey Sadler and did not allow a hit until the 9th inning, when the Rockies scored a meaningless run. It was only his second appearance as a major leaguer, after he had made his major league debut with a spot start on June 26th, giving up 6 runs in 4 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He went 4-2, 2,93 in 11 games that first season, with 6 starts. He pitched 40 innings, allowing a mere 26 hits and 15 walks, and striking out 37. He did not appear in the postseason as the Dodgers were upset by the Washington Nationals in the Division Series.

He was still considered a rookie heading into the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which explains why he was named to the 2020 Topps All-Star Rookie Team even though he made fewer appearances than in 2019. He pitched in 9 games, 8 as a starter, logging 46 2/3 innings and finishing at 2-2, 2.31. The most remarkable part of his record was his K/W ratio, at 46/7. He was not used in the first two rounds of the postseason, finally appearing for the first time when he started Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves on October 13th. he gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings and was charged with his team's 7-6 loss. He then pitched in relief in the decisive Game 7 on October 18th, coming in after Dustin May had started the game but left after giving up 1 run in the 1st. The first batter he faced, Dansby Swanson, took him deep and after a perfect 3rd inning, he put himself in trouble in the 4th by walking Ozzie Albies and Swanson, and then allowing a run-scoring single to Austin Riley. The Dodgers trailed 3-2 at that point and the Braves were threatening to break the game open but Blake Treinen, summoned in relief, after making the situation even more tense by throwing a wild pitch that advanced both runners 90 feet, managed to induce a double play grounder in which Swanson was tagged out at home, and then another ground ball as the Dodgers got out of the inning with no further damage; they then staged acome back fthat resulted in a 4-3 win that put them in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. He started Games 2 and 6 of the Series, but was not allowed to go deep in either game, being lifted before the end of the 2nd inning in both cases after allowing a solo homer. That sole run resulted in his being charged with a 6-5 loss in Game 2, as the Dodgers were never able to tie the game again, and a no-decision in Game 6, which the Dodgers won, 3-1, to claim their first World Championship since 1988. During the regular season, he had allowed only two long balls, but gave up one in all four of his postseason appearances.

In 2021, he was expected to be a full-time starter, but injuries limited him to 15 games, 13 of them starts, with a record of 4-1, 3.23. He struck out 65 batters in 55 2/3 innings, but his walk rate rose considerably, as he issued 34 free passes, or 5.5 per 9 innings. His only postseason appearances were in the NLCS, again against the Braves, as manager Dave Roberts used his pitchers in a very unconventional way- and ultimately a damaging one - during the entire postseason run. A starter all year, his three outings were in relief, as Roberts became enamored of the opener for some unfathomable reason in spite of possessing a very strong group of starting pitchers. In any case he was charged with a blown save in Game 1 on October 16th as the fourth of eight Dodgers pitchers on the night in a game started by short reliever Corey Knebel on a day when he was available, fully rested - and actually used to the role of starting important games. The blown save came in just the 4th inning after he replaced Justin Bruihl with one out and made it five straight postseason appearances with a gopher ball when Riley took him deep, making the score 2-2 at that still early stage. He ended up pitching 2 innings without giving up anything else as the Braves won, 3-2, in the bottom of the 9th. He then received credit for the Dodgers' 6-5 win in Game 3, on October 19th, this time as the eighth of nine pitchers. He recorded just one out, getting Albies on a line out with two on in the top of the 8th, then was gifted a win when L.A. made an improbable comeback from being down 5-2, scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th to win 6-5. He did not return to close out the game, as Kenley Jansen was available and did the job he had done successfully so many times previously. His final outing came under similar circumstances the following day, as the Dodgers were again down, 5-2, again in the 8th. However, he failed completely this time as after one straightforward inning, he gave up four runs in the 9th, one on a double by Freddie Freeman and three on yet another homer, this one by Eddie Rosario, that sealed a 9-2 Atlanta win. The Braves went on to win the series in six games, and he did not see any other action.

He finally emerged as the reliable starting pitcher the Dodgers had been hoping for for the past three years when he started the 2022 season red hot. After allowing no runs on just 1 hit in 6 1/3 innings in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on June 14th, he not only led the National League with 8 wins after 12 starts, but also had the lowest ERA in the majors at 1.42. This was especially appreciated as other Dodger starting pitchers, like Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Heaney, had been hampered by injuries and someone needed to pick up the slack for a team that had lofty ambitions. Since 1912, only two pitchers in the Dodgers' rich history had ever posted a lower ERA after 12 starts: Don Drysdale in 1968, on his way to setting a record for most consecutive scoreless innings, and Hyun-Jin Ryu in 2019. Even the great Sandy Koufax had not matched that, as in his best season, in 1963, he was at 1.45 after 12 starts.

On the personal side, he is known for his love of cats, often seen wearing shirts with a feline motif, and even wearing game cleats featuring a similar theme.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Matt Sieger: "Former Vacaville High baseball star Tony Gonsolin a step away from the big leagues: Top Dodger prospect is pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City", The Vacaville Reporter, May 16, 2019. [1]
  • Juan Toribio: "Gonsolin lowers MLB-best ERA to 1.42: Right-hander is first NL pitcher to earn 8 wins this season", mlb.com, June 15, 2022. [2]

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