Gonsolin stands 10-0 after shutting down SD

Righty adds to his All-Star cred with a career-long outing

July 2nd, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Before Friday night’s start, there was little doubt that Tony Gonsolin was on his way to representing the Dodgers this month in the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

In a 5-1 win over the Padres at Dodger Stadium, Gonsolin all but secured his spot in the Midsummer Classic, allowing just one run and striking out eight over a career-best 7 2/3 innings. His season ERA is 1.54, leading all qualified starters.

Gonsolin also became the first pitcher in the National League to reach 10 wins this season. He’s tied with future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander of the Astros for the MLB lead in wins. Gonsolin is also just the seventh pitcher since 1961 to begin a season 10-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA.

“He was outstanding tonight,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He just pitched his tail off, and he’s been so consistent for us.”

While Gonsolin has been stellar all season, his outing Friday is arguably the best start of his young career. Outside of a Trent Grisham homer in the fifth inning, Gonsolin controlled the night. Gonsolin retired the Padres in order in four frames. He didn’t allow more than one baserunner in any inning.

Gonsolin, per usual, was doing most of his damage with his signature splitter. The Padres’ lineup swung at the pitch 24 times and whiffed on nine of them. In total, Gonsolin recorded 18 swings and misses, tying his season high.

“He was just doing what he’s been doing, really,” said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. “He just has four pitches he can throw at any time. He’s got a lot of confidence right now on the mound. He’s putting us in positions to win each and every time he goes out there. You can’t ask much more of him.”

Behind Gonsolin, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger gave the Dodgers enough early offense. Muncy hit his second homer in his last four games on the first pitch he saw from Padres starter Blake Snell in the second inning. Over his last four games, Muncy has swung the bat much better, going 4-for-14 with two homers.

Muncy’s homer was all the Dodgers got off Snell, who struck out 12 over five innings. Bellinger, however, was able to strike with a solo homer off Craig Stammen in the sixth to give the Dodgers the lead. The Dodgers went on to score three more times in the later innings, giving Gonsolin plenty of cushion.

“Just our ability to tack on late was good,” Roberts said, “as well as getting to Snell and trying to weather him because he was really good tonight.”

Gonsolin’s rise to becoming a near-certain first-time All-Star is one of the most surprising storylines of the season. Coming into Spring Training, Gonsolin was competing for a spot in the rotation with Tyler Anderson and David Price. The stuff and potential was never in question with Gonsolin, but the right-hander had struggled with his command consistency.

This season, Gonsolin has taken notes from the likes of Clayton Kershaw, who has encouraged him to just throw the ball in the zone. The improvement was on full display on Friday. Gonsolin needed just 92 pitches to get 23 outs. Through seven innings, Gonsolin had thrown 78 pitches, only 15 of them for balls.

"I've always kind of known Tony was kind of special,” Barnes said. “I thought early on, he was a little younger, he kind of had a shorter leash and stuff like that. But his mix has been there in the past. He's thrown up great numbers in seasons prior. So I don't think anybody's super surprised about what he's doing right now. But he's got to keep going. He knows that."

The next challenge for Gonsolin will be to sustain success over the course of an entire Major League season. He’s already at a career high in innings since breaking into the Majors in 2019. He’ll be a big piece of the Dodgers’ plans moving forward. But as of now, Gonsolin is making quite the statement in the first half.

“There’s no need to get ahead of myself,” said Gonsolin, who is a man of few words. “I threw well today, I’m going to celebrate today. The goal is to win tomorrow.”