LA's win streak snapped at 11 as Gonsolin struggles

Dodgers' streak snapped at 11 after tough series-opening loss to Marlins

August 19th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- If his previous outing offered hope for his ability to turn his season around, ’s start on Friday night at Dodger Stadium showed there’s still cause for concern.

The right-hander surrendered a career-high five homers to the Marlins in an 11-3 Dodgers loss, ending their winning streak after 11 games. In 70 previous Major League starts, Gonsolin had never allowed more than two homers.

“I just don’t think tonight, he had life to his fastball,” said manager Dave Roberts. “... They got into some good counts, and when he needed to make a pitch, they still put some really good swings on it. So yeah, it just wasn't sharp all around.”

Gonsolin was coming off his first quality start since June 13, limiting the Rockies to one run in six innings on Sunday. That sole run came on a first-pitch homer by Ezequiel Tovar, but Gonsolin was able to settle in the rest of the way.

That pattern didn’t hold on Friday. Jorge Soler greeted him with a leadoff homer, and while Mookie Betts responded with a leadoff shot of his own in the bottom of the frame, that was as much as the Dodgers would ever be back in the game.

In the third inning, Soler once again took Gonsolin deep, this time crushing a high 2-1 fastball a Statcast-projected 441 feet into the left-center-field bleachers. With one out and two on, Jake Burger connected with a hanging slider to put the Marlins ahead by four. The major blow, though, came when Jacob Stallings -- who’d hit just one homer all season long -- drove a two-run blast to center field to cap a six-run frame.

With a Hurricane Hillary-necessitated doubleheader slated for Saturday, Roberts opted to let Gonsolin go back out for the fourth. Gonsolin walked Soler and gave up a double to Luis Arraez before Jazz Chisholm Jr. brought his night to a close with a one-out, three-run blast.

In total, Gonsolin was charged with 10 runs on eight hits and four walks, raising his ERA to 4.98 -- a far cry from the 2.51 mark of his first four big league seasons.

“I thought there were some excellent pitches,” said Gonsolin. “I thought I executed some pitches that got hit really hard, which I haven't been able to say in the past -- or really, this year. I feel like I just wasn't executing very well. Fell behind in a lot of counts, walked a lot of guys. Overall, just a tough day.”

According to Roberts, Gonsolin has been dealing with an unspecified elbow injury for about four to six weeks, which would just about encompass the nine-game stretch that was the worst of his MLB career. While Gonsolin wouldn’t use that as an excuse for his performance issues, his manager certainly thinks it’s a factor. 

“Tony is just going out there and doing what he can,” said Roberts. “At times, his stuff is good, the fastball is good. But physically, he's not 100 percent. So I think we’re going to circle up with Tony tomorrow and figure out if a blow, a break makes sense.”

Beyond Gonsolin, the Dodgers have had starting pitching woes for much of the season -- but they’ve experienced a turnaround in August after a particularly difficult July. In fact, a big part of why they’re 15-2 this month is due to the rotation. In 16 August games prior to Friday, L.A. starters had a 1.97 ERA, which had been the best in MLB for the month.

For a team with a 10 1/2-game lead over the second-place Giants in the NL West, it’s not too soon for the Dodgers to start turning an eye toward the postseason. And as things stand, Gonsolin is increasingly looking like he could be the odd man out in the rotation come October.

Health permitting, Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw are locks. Lance Lynn, who’s been nothing short of impressive since joining the Dodgers ahead of the Trade Deadline, is making his case, while a strong rookie season from Bobby Miller could be difficult to compete with -- unless Gonsolin can reestablish his rhythm with any kind of consistency. He might need a break to rest and recover physically to do that.

“It's a performance game,” said Roberts. “There's been a couple of good ones in there in the last six weeks. But overall, just hasn't been what we’re used to seeing from Tony. … We'll see if something needs to be done.”