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Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin Needs to Be in the Postseason Starting Rotation

When the playoffs roll around, Tony Gonsolin better be in the starting rotation.



Tony Gonsolin has been one of the best surprises for the Dodgers in 2020. We all knew he was good, but we honestly didn’t think he would get this kind of chance to prove himself. Through six starts this year, Gonsolin has proven that he is right where he belongs. 

If you eliminate the last outing when he came on unprepared in relief following an injury to Dustin May, Gonsolin has been unbelievable. In his six starts, he has allowed just 3 earned runs across 30.2 innings of work(0.88 ERA). To say that he has been one of the Dodgers’ best starters in 2020 would be fair. 

Despite that, Gonsolin hasn’t even had a consistent role with the team. Dave Roberts has had him slot in for spot starts several times, but Gonsolin’s continued dominance forced the issue. So much so that the Dodgers traded Ross Stripling to Toronto, in part, to make room for Tony in the rotation. 

Gonsolin’s playoff role also does not appear to be set, though it should be. The Dodgers have Kershaw and Buehler going in the first two games, but nothing set beyond that. Roberts confirmed that Gonsolin was making the conversation difficult following his outing on Tuesday. 

Well, he’s certainly in the [postseason] plans. I think right now, the great thing about us is that we have a lot of options with starting pitching. We know Clayton and Walker are going to start game one and game two. And we’re talking about a three-game series, there are some discussions that need to be had with the rest of the three guys.

It’s sort of baffling to think that the Dodgers are so deep that Gonsolin might not get the chance to start in a postseason game. But the possibility of Gonsolin coming in after Dustin May or Julio Urias, or the other way around, could also be in play. When asked about how he felt he threw and what that meant for his postseason role, Gonsolin was humble as ever.

Every outing is an opportunity to show and try to convince the staff and front office and all that for making the playoff roster. So ideally that’s the goal, and at the end of that winning the games in October and taking home a championship….Every game that I get to go out there and throw is the biggest game for me, I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and hopefully give our team a chance. 

Personally, I don’t think there is even a conversation to be had. Tony Gonsolin should be the third pitcher in the playoff rotation if you’re having Kershaw and Buehler go the first two games. Gonsolin has been the Dodgers’ second-most valuable starting pitcher in terms of WAR just behind Clayton Kershaw. He’s also managed to do with two fewer starts under his belt. 

In terms of advanced metrics, Gonsolin leads the way for Dodgers starting pitchers in plenty of categories. His FIP(2.40), xFIP(3.74), and starting ERA(0.88) all rank at the top. Dave Roberts, please use Tony where he belongs. 

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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. I am not convinced that Walter Buehler should be the 2nd starter. He has been rather inconsistent this year and he has had a few very unsuccessful starts. I think that LA could start Buehler in the 2nd game, but have someone like Gonsolin or May available to handle long relief, rather than leave it to 4 or 5 relievers in the event Buehler leaves the game early. The 3rd game could be Urias, or either of the above who does not pitch in game 2. Alternatively, start Gonsolin in game 2 and Buehler in game 3.

    • I will be very brief and up front here: if Gonsolin is not in the PS starting rotation, Roberts should be dispatche, unless he wasn’t that decision maker in this case, period!.

  2. One of the constant issues with the Dodgers rotation over the past several years has been the uncertainty of roles. Basically you have had Kershaw cast in stone and everyone else gets shuffled around (except for Ryu toward the end.) Yes, flexibility is one thing, but Stripling was a good example of what happens when someone’s role keeps changing. Same with Maeda. Another challenge is loyalty. Loyalty is a good thing most of the time, but we have seen pitchers put in situations based on something from the past rather than current performance (think Wood and Urias or playoff Kershaw here). Yes, right now, Gonsolin looks playoff ready and Buehler really doesn’t. But we’ll have to see how things look in two weeks. Two weeks ago, Jansen looked ready to dominate again, Today, not so much.

  3. Our Dodgers only have two starting PITCHERS, Kershaw and Gonsolin. The other three starters (Buehler, May and Urias) can throw really hard but leave too many pitches that can be hit hard and far and tend to get wild. Gonsolin not being in the rotation would be a crime, but he was being sent down when he was throwing nothing but shutout innings.

  4. There’s no debate – despite Roberts’ hedging – that Gonsolin is in the playoff rotation. What I don’t understand is the lack of love for Buehler in these comments. While struggling some this season with blisters, he is a proven big game pitcher and one of the top 5 pitchers in MLB.

    • I love Buehler. He CAN BE one of the top five starters in baseball but isn’t close this year. He has given up 7 homers and walked 10 in 32.2 this year with a 3.86 ERA. All stats that support my statements. I am only talking about his current status as a dependable starter. Yes, blisters have to be considered.

  5. Gonsolin is a real weapon. You have to get him into games in the postseason. If Kershaw, Buehler, and May are all healthy and effective they should be the 1, 2, 3 guys. But you still have to get Gonsolin in. Normally the 4 guy is an afterthought who sits on the bench or goes to the bullpen during the postseason, but that assumes stronger dominant guys ahead of him, which is not the case this year. Gonsolin is as effective as any of them, actually more so. Urias should go to the bullpen in postseason because he has proven successful there. He is an ideal long releiver, and can go short or even close games. If Gonsolin goes to the bullpen it should only be as a closer, so we can avoid throwing away games with Jansen who has proven to be anything but a shutdown closer. Gonsolin can shut the opposition down. Otherwise, go with a true 4 man rotation in the postseason. It’s not often done. But this would be the year to do it. Gonsolin deserves to pitch in the postseason. And if the Dodgers want to win it all, they need his shutdown pitching. Seeing is believing, and the numbers don’t lie. Let the man pitch!

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