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Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin is Making One of the Biggest Impacts Among MLB Rookies

The Goose is loose in Los Angeles.



This year has been unprecedented across MLB in terms of the number of rookies getting a shot. Teams have used 364 players that have qualified as rookies in 2020, a pace that would shatter last year’s mark if not for the shortened season. The Dodgers are certainly familiar with bringing up young talent during the season. 

ESPN ranked out the rookies who have made the biggest impact on their team in 2020 earlier this week. Among the names are young superstars like Kyle Luis, Luis Robert, and Sixto Sanchez. But one LA player also cracked the top 5 for pitchers, and he truly has been one of the most clutch guys on the team down the stretch. 

The Dodgers have utilized Tony Gonsolin mostly in a starting rotation capacity. Across 7 appearances this year, Gonsolin has made 6 starts. He did not give up more than 1 earned run in any of those 6 starts, though his relief appearance was tough. More from ESPN on the rookie:

Lanky redhead Dustin May, with his stiff-legged delivery and his filthy sinker, have gotten more attention, but the less-heralded Gonsolin, who at times has had to battle for his roster spot, has been the more effective of the two Dodgers rookie starters. A shaggy 26-year-old righty who bears a resemblance to Frank Zappa, he passed the 30-inning threshold only on Tuesday night, his first outing in which he reached 90 pitches — a stellar seven-inning turn against the Padres. His filthy fastball/splitter/slider/curve combo has befuddled hitters, generating a team-high 14.6% swinging strike rate while helping him limit walks and homers.

Gonsolin has put up a 1.1 WAR by Fangraphs’ measures, good for second among all rookie hurlers. Only Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins has a higher WAR at 1.3 across 2 fewer appearances. You would think that Gonsolin would have a start in the playoffs all but guaranteed, but that’s not quite the case. Dave Roberts has already said that Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw will pitch in the first 2 games but said there were still decisions to be made beyond that. 

Both Tony Smokes and Code Red will undoubtedly garner NL ROY votes, but can either get enough to bring home the franchise’s unprecedented 19th honor in 2020?

Dodgers Highlights: Mookie Betts Runs Wild, Dustin May Dominates, and AJ Pollock Crushes

Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. The Dodgers have Gonsolin (26), May (23), Graterol (22!!) , White (25) and Urias(24), Gonzalez (24), Buehler (26), all on the roster and contributing and showing great talent. Plus they have guys like Gray, Santana and Kaslowski not to mention the 3 very talented pitchers they picked up in the draft this year. Sborz (26) looks to be coming along nicely also for a future bullpen guy.
    The Dodger Organization deserves a Standing Ovation.
    Think of Teams like the Angels that have no starting pitcher to match these young guns. I think the top 4 of these young giuns would start for the Angels and several other franchises.
    I think votes will go for May and Gonsolin and split the vote. We shall see.
    The great thing is we have all of this pitching talent and are one fo the youngest teams in the League with a very good Farm Team. Its all good for the future.
    Unlike most while I absolutely crave a WS Championship I do not rate a year as a waste if they do not win it. Winning the WS Championship a team must be a bit lucky. Injuries, Momentum, Hot Players, the bounce of a ball or a bad call by the Umpire have all determined the Championship.
    I am thrilled the Dodgers ahve young players like Smith, Bellinger, etc to go with Betts, Pollock, Turner and Muncy.

  2. Even though Gonsolin has been the best performer in the rotation, I am increasingly thinking of him as the best choice to be the closer in the postseason. There is a definite void at the closer spot with Jansen not getting it done.

    • Gonsolin commands a number of different pitches which is required to go deep in games as a starter; Closer’s typically rely on 1 or 2 for the single inning. Treinen’s heavy sinker at 97 or Graterol’s heat are better options. Management has to be considering Treinen already.

      • I agree that Treinen is the obvious choice. Gatorade does not have the 2 pitch or experience, and really isn’t ready. But both are better than Jansen. Somehow you have to get Gonsolin into postseason games in high leverage situations. 4 man rotations in the postseason are rarely used. It generally falls to three guys. But May and Gonsolin are both impact guys that need to get the ball. You either use a true 4 rotation, or somebody goes to the bullpen. This season Gonsolin has been the best shutdown pitcher. If he goes to the bullpen why waste him as a middle releiver? Let him close. Treinen is the conventional choice. But I think Gonsolin is the better choice.

        • There are no travel or off days in the playoffs this year; I think we’ll see 4 man rotations. In any event, IMO Gonsolin should start ahead of May because May’s effectiveness falls off the table after 50 pitches. He has a hard time getting through 6 innings.

  3. TMax, I could agree with you more. Your opening paragraph speaks so well of the Dodger front office as presently constituted. Gonso, May, Gonzalez, and Rios are fine players who will make significant contributions this year as we advance in the playoffs. Kudos to Friedman. Go Blue!!!

  4. Yes! Gonsolin is pitching out of his head banging cat loving mind and it’s great to see but we have serous cracks in our rotation and our bull pen. To postpone the October champagne for yet another year and to skip along and be content with what we did and what we had is ridiculous. It’s hasn’t been since “88, the champagne is stale and my hair is gone! Year after year after year I continue to witness and continue to read how our greatest need is pitching and every year we fail to have that one piece to get us over the top. Yes, we have a good bunch of players and good prospects but there also was a time when Kershaw was young and the team was in contention but failed .The Greinke/Kershaw punch was all we had. Now that team is gone, traded, retired, taken apart. The same can happen with what we have now if we settle for saying ” There is always next year”…again it’s been over 3 decades! It starts with the ownership, the front office, the GM, and then the coach. I love all our players but when the job isn’t getting done we can’t continue to sprinkle powdered sugar, the end result/taste is the same..bad.. Jansen cannot be relied on, Santana & Treinen are imbalanced. Urias has big early trouble, Buehler has imploded he is not the Ace we all crowned. Kershaw has held up the fort but let’s admit folks his better years were wasted with the “genius” Mattingly. Maeda we undervalued and under utilized he is flourishing now. We could haven used his steel eyed focus. Ryu could have been the backbone we desperately need now or we could have gone after a few key pitchers that were available but ignored after last season or at the trade deadline. We have a lot of hardware and its cute but we have failed to hit the motherload. We have been laughed at by the Giants, Nationals, RedS, Astros and the likes of personalities like Machado.Yes we can argue that the Astros stole it but games we played in LA especially game 7 was a travesty of coaching errors from the start. Coaching, Management and Ownership has seen teams wither away. Waiting till next year or decade we can’t do anymore. Some of us can’t skip anymore or jump the way we did in 1988. Conformity sucks.

    • David, I assume from your comment that you – like me – are a long time Dodger fan. If so, then you probably know what we have endured for the last several years is not unprecedented. I wasn’t around to see the team lose World Series in ’52 and ’53 before finally winning in ’55 but I was to see them lose in ’74, ’77, and ’78 before again finally winning in ’81. My heart was broken by losing to the hated Yankees in ’78 after we were up 2 games to none.
      This team has a nice mix of young and veteran players with a real chance and I believe Gonsolin will prove to be a better playoff starting option than either Maeda or Ryu. If history has shown us anything, this just might be the year.

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