And just like that, the Cat Man got scratched.
Dodgers right-handed stalwart Tony Gonsolin had planned on a full season in 2023 after watching his second half derailed last year with a right forearm strain. Unfortunately, the All-Star hurler got off on the wrong foot, tripping as he exited the practice field in what seemed to be an innocent slip.
That fall was nothing to sneeze at, it turns out. Gonsolin required immediate medical attention, and had to undergo tests to eliminate the possibility of an ankle fracture, as swelling persisted (and still does, as of Thursday, March 9).
Missing Opening Day has now become more of a likelihood for Gonsolin than a worst-case scenario, as manager Dave Roberts' only comment on his current predicament was an extremely bleak, “It’s not something we feel really good about right now."
Great! In that case, we also feel not good about it. Bad, even. So, who's next?
Which pitchers could make Opening Day roster after Tony Gonsolin injury?
Either Ryan Pepiot or Michael Grove will get the Opening Day roster nod, according to Roberts prior to Friday's game with the Angels. At the moment, both pitchers appear neck and neck, though Pepiot has the advantage of more big-league experience down the stretch in 2022.
Dodgers fans didn't get to see the most pristine version of Pepiot last year, as the right-hander often battled bouts of wildness, leading to a 1.46 WHIP and 27 walks in just 36.1 innings. His swing-and-miss potential was evident in the number of jams he wriggled out of, though, leading to a somewhat-lucky 3.47 ERA (and 42 Ks).
OK, maybe "somewhat" lucky was too kind; Pepiot's FIP was 5.42, indicating that a pitcher less adept at dancing through traffic would've had a significant black mark on his resumé after last season.
That familiarity would lead you to believe it's his job to lose, but Grove also made six starts for the big club last season, with less-than-stellar results. While Pepiot only flirted with getting bitten by the run-scoring bug, Grove got whacked, posting a 4.60 ERA in seven outings and striking out less than a man per inning (24 in 29.1).
Both have been buzzsaws in small sample sizes this spring, though Grove has kept traffic off the bases at a far better rate than Pepiot (0.33 WHIP to 1.33). Gonsolin healing from his mishap quickly would help clear things up tremendously, but that doesn't seem likely. Instead, the Dodgers will need to rely on yet another unknown quantity to carry the day early.