Welcome To The Show, Part 8 – Tony Gonsolin Makes His Way
Tony Gonsolin went undrafted out of high school. He finished his senior year with a 4-1 record and a 2.60 ERA but failed to catch the eye of any scouts. Instead he enrolled at nearby St. Mary’s College. On the college team he was a two-way player, as an outfielder and coming out of the bullpen in relief. Gonsolin attended St. Mary’s for four years, finishing his senior year with 3-3 record and a 3.86 ERA. (He also batted .305 with 11 home runs and 77 RBIs over his four years, but history may not remember that aspect of his game.) In his time at St. Mary’s, he caught the eye of the Dodgers. They selected Gonsolin in the ninth round of the 2016 draft.
Started From The Bottom
Despite his college experience, he began his professional career at the lowest levels of the minor leagues. He did however advance through them quickly. In his first professional season he pitched out of the bullpen, beginning with the Ogden Raptors and quickly advancing to the Great Lakes Loons. He began the following season in Great Lakes but soon stepped up to Rancho Cucamonga early on and spent most of the season there.
In the 2018 season, Gonsolin converted from a reliever to a starter, and began his season in Rancho Cucamonga. Midway through, he was promoted to Double-A Tulsa, continuing as a starter. He finished with a 10-2 record and a 2.60 ERA between the two levels and the Dodgers named 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the organization.
Gonsolin’s rise as a starter continued in 2019 as he began the year in Triple-A Oklahoma City, and reached his major league call up in June of 2019. The Dodgers felt a sixth starter would allow some rest for the other members of the pitching rotation, and called up Gonsolin on June 26th, 2019.
Now We Here
Gonsolin pitched just four innings, allowing six hits and six runs in a game that finished with Dodgers catcher Russel Martin pitching. It was not an ideal start for Gonsolin, but an arrival in the big leagues nonetheless. He started six games in 2019, and came out of the bullpen for another five.
At the end of 2019, he put up a 2.93 ERA and his meteoric rise to being a top Dodgers pitching prospect had ended in a successful start to his big league career. Gonsolin continued to progress in 2020, with a 2.31 ERA over eight starts in a COVID-shortened season. In the 2020 season opposing batters barreled up his pitches slightly better than they had in 2019, but he lowered his walk percentage and his WOBA with better results overall. That being said, Gonsolin’s performance in the 2020 postseason was not ideal. He threw 9.1 innings between the NLCS and World Series, with an 8.68 ERA and an 0-2 record.
Tony Gonsolin Today
Gonsolin started the 2021 season on the IL with a shoulder injury, and his return has been slow. In his two starts he has pitched a combined five-and-one-third innings, allowing two runs on six hits. While that result may sound (and feel) underwhelming for Dodgers fans, some patience is warranted. Gonsolin was dominant in 2020 and while he may not be in mid-season form just yet, his ceiling is high. There’s a lot of baseball left in the season and Gonsolin has the potential to contribute in a big way at the back of the rotation. It takes time to build up arm strength and to get a starter deeper into games. Luckily, the Dodgers have the luxury of a strong bullpen to cover innings in the meantime.
The journey from two-way playing in college to starting in the majors may not be how he planned his career out. Nevertheless Gonsolin has proven himself to be a valuable and worthy member of the Dodgers pitching staff. Now only time will tell where his story goes from here.
Being a Dodger fan is so much more than watching games, it’s also about the people with whom you share your Dodger memories. The best debuts are often the ones we share with friends and family.
Our Married Debut
Five years ago yesterday, I married my wife Lauren. We decided the best way to celebrate our marriage was to go to Dodger Stadium the day after our wedding. Over the years as we had fallen in love, many of our favorite memories and moments happened at Chavez Ravine. So we felt that our first memory as a married couple HAD to be a Dodger game.
Lauren and I got there early for batting practice. It was like going to the stadium for the first time all over again. We walked all around, taking in the sights and sounds we had experienced a hundred times before, now with a new shine about them. We settled into our seats – Loge 101, row B, seats 1 and 2 – and it was “time for Dodger baseball.”
Justin Turner took Zach Davies deep in the bottom of the first to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Two RBI doubles in the sixth inning put the Brewers ahead 2-1 in a tight game. It was the bottom of the eighth inning when Justin Turner went deep again, to tie up the game 2-2. With the game tied and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th, Turner came up to bat again. We knew he would deliver. He roped a single to center and walked it off. Friday Night Fireworks started shortly after, and our perfect night was complete.
The memories of the walk-off win are nice, but that day for us was not about the game. It was about the meaning that Dodger baseball holds in our lives. “Moment after moment, memory after memory” as Joe Davis once called in a walkoff victory in July of 2017, “the Dodgers have done it again.”
Photo Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times