Dodgers: What Tony Gonsolin’s Start Means to the Starting Rotation
In an 8–2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, Dodgers’ rookie starter Tony Gonsolin, holder of a solid 2.77 ERA at Triple-A, gave up 4 earned runs in 4 innings pitched.
While he did record his first MLB hit, his short forced to Russell Martin to pitch out of the bullpen for the Dodgers. Tony Gonsolin did not pitch well but he may have battled enough after the first inning to prove his worth, and earn a split-start role in the rotation.
Even though Gonsolin’s debut didn’t go as planned, he was hurt by errors, and the blowup, 4-run first inning is really what did him in. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say he earned a second start, it would be hard to say his Triple-A and Spring Training numbers haven’t demonstrated his readiness to pitch at the highest level.
Plus, even after a hectic first inning, Gonsolin finished up with only 77 pitches thrown, meaning sans the errors and bad luck, the mustached righty could have likely gone further into his first start.
Even if he had been better, and had gone deeper though, both Ross Stripling and Julio Urias seem more likely to be pitching meaningful innings for the Dodgers in the near future, and deservedly so.
The dynamic duo combined to throw 6 innings of one-run ball last night, and both have pitched well nearly every time out this season. In my opinion, they should be pegged to start games ahead of Gonsolin in what is seemingly becoming a Hill-less future.
Gonsolin’s first inning struggles in his first start cannot be made to be generalized out to any game he would start, but the opener strategy making waves across the MLB is in place so that pitchers like Gonsolin, with little experience against the top-tier of professional hitters, can go deeper into games and build up success in lower leverage innings.
Thus, I feel that Gonsolin’s start has made three things that were murky earlier on Wednesday clearer than they have been since the Hill injury.
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One, Stripling, the most experienced starter out of the last three pitchers I’ve mentioned, should take the fifth starting rotation slot. Two, Urias should come out of the bullpen as both a bulk man or as a high leverage arm, or maybe even as some combination of the two. And third, Gonsolin may be the man to take Stripling’s role as a multi-inning man in the bullpen.
A Gonsolin-then-Urias start mirrored after the Stripling/Urias start from two nights ago may be the perfect way to thread the metaphorical needle.
This strategy would keep Gonsolin in the majors, keep him throwing more than just an inning or two each week in low-leverage situations, and most importantly make the most efficient and effective use out of the 6’3” rookie righty.
If Gonsolin, who may now have the best hair on the Dodgers, thrives in this role, then Roberts could decide, based on Stripling and Urias’ performances and on the health of the rest of the rotation, if Gonsolin could garner more opportunities to start in the future.
For now, Stripling should start games, or at the very least be implemented into a split-start sequence utilizing Urias and potentially the 25-year old Gonsolin.