Tony Gonsolin pitched his way into the Dodgers rotation in 2020, but intermittent usage in the postseason led to October struggles.
Gonsolin was on the outside looking in when the regular season started, but was called up to make a few spot starts in July and August. He was remarkably effective, allowing no runs in 14⅔ innings, with 12 strikeouts and only two walks in his first three starts, but was also optioned to the alternate site twice.
At the trade deadline, the Dodgers dealt Ross Stripling away, which opened up a rotation slot for Gonsolin down the stretch, and he continued to shine. Gonsolin allowed more than two runs only twice in his nine games, and in 46 innings he struck out 46 and walked only seven.
Among the 111 major league pitchers with at least 40 innings, Gonsolin ranked 11th in ERA (2.31) and fifth in FIP (2.29). Fifth!
Come the postseason, the Dodgers rotation was Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler as starters in every sense of the term, with Julio Urías, Gonsolin, and Dustin May in more fluid roles. In the first two rounds, with shorter series, both May and Urías were used in relief. Gonsolin was set to start Game 4 of the NLDS, but the Dodgers swept away the Padres in three games.
Gonsolin’s first postseason appearance came in the NLCS, and even that schedule was upended when he was pressed into duty after Kershaw was scratched. Gonsolin’s Game 2 start against the Braves came 17 days after his last start, and he predictably struggled, allowing five runs.
That earned a shorter leash for Gonsolin in the rest of his October outings, pulled early in each of his final three games. There were extenuating circumstances in a few of those games — Game 7 of the NLCS was winner-take-all, and since the Dodgers used three starting pitchers to win that game they had nobody rested enough to pitch deep in Game 2 of the World Series, during which Gonsolin was pulled after just four outs.
Gonsolin’s first relatively normal start, with a regular routine in the days before, was in Game 6 against the Rays, but even then he struggled, and was pulled after only five outs.
While Urías thrived and May adjusted to their different postseason roles, Gonsolin struggled. He walked more batters and allowed more home runs in the postseason than he did in the regular season, in one-fifth of the innings.
A tale of two Gonsolin seasons
Stats: 2.31 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 46 IP, 46 K
Game of the year
The Padres for a brief moment had designs on knocking the Dodgers off their perch atop the NL West, and after a series-opening win in San Diego closed the gap in the division to just 1½ games, thanks to 21 wins in 26 games. But then on Sept. 15, Gonsolin pitched the longest outing of his career, holding a strong Padres offense to just one run on four hits in seven innings, putting the Dodgers back on track to cruise to an eighth straight division title.
Gonsolin has 152 days of major league service time, with one option year remaining, having used options in 2019 and 2020.