Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Entering the 2021 season, Tony Gonsolin was blocked on the Los Angeles Dodgers depth chart but he was still expected to be an important part of their roster.
Coming out of Spring Training, Gonsolin made the Opening Day roster as a relief pitcher. However, he did not make an appearance before he was placed on the 10-day injured list.
Gonsolin was bothered by right shoulder inflammation that initially surfaced at the end of Spring Training. “I thought it was just normal soreness,” he said at the time. “I hadn’t really felt sore before that, so I thought I just had a little soreness or whatever.
“Tried to throw on it and it was really acting up during that. Then it just kind of got a little worse from there and felt a lot more uncomfortable.”
In the middle of May, Gonsolin was transferred to the 60-day IL. The injury ended up costing him two months of the season.
The right-hander returned on June 9 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and made his first appearance of the season but was limited to 1.2 innings pitched while allowing one run and five walks.
Gonsolin ended up making 12 more starts but he never pitched more than 5.1 innings in any of them and struggled with his control most of the season, which often limited him to four innings pitched or fewer.
During June and July, Gonsolin was walking more than six batters per nine innings and his overall fastball velocity was down from an average of 95 mph in 2020 to 93 mph.
By September, Gonsolin’s velocity was back up to 94.7 mph and his walks per nine dropped to 3.6, which he credited to fixing his mechanics and no longer overthrowing his fastball, which was a lingering result of his shoulder injury.
“Just feeling more comfortable within my mechanics, not trying to overthrow the fastball and not trying to be too fine with some of the offspeed stuff,” Gonsolin said. “Just attacking guys. But now it feels like it’s coming out a lot freer and I’m not as concerned with the velocity.”
Despite his control and velocity problems over the majority of his season, Gonsolin still posted a 3.23 ERA in 55.2 innings and struck out 27.2% of hitters faced.
The Dodgers carried Gonsolin on their roster for the National League Wild Card Game and Division Series, but he didn’t appear in a game during those rounds.
In the NL Championship Series, Gonsolin pitched four innings over three games and allowed five earned runs, with four of them coming in his final outing.
Gonsolin’s 2021 highlight
Gonsolin’s best outing of the season came on July 24 against the Colorado Rockies.
He pitched 5.1 innings and allowed no runs on two hits while striking out seven and walking two in a 1-0 Dodgers’ victory.
The start, which was his eighth of the year, lowered his season ERA to 2.38.
Gonsolin should be an important part of the Dodgers’ pitching plans for this season, whether it is as one of their top-five starters or as a swingman.
As of right now, he is one of their top starting pitchers, however, the team will likely add another starter or two once the lockout ends. Regardless of who the Dodgers add and what role he ends up in, Gonsolin will end up making starts in 2022.
Although he owns a career 2.85 ERA in 142.1 innings, Gonsolin is still looking to breakout and needs to prove that he can be relied upon to throw 150 innings or more as a starter.
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