Tony Gonsolin had the best outing of his young MLB career when he threw six shutout innings in the series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals this week. The Los Angeles Dodgers rewarded the right-hander by optioning him back to Triple-A Oklahoma City the very next day.
The move seemed puzzling, especially as fellow starter Rich Hill remains out with a flexor strain and Ross Stripling suffered a setback with neck stiffness. Top pitching prospect Dustin May remains the team’s fifth starter as the rotation is presently constructed.
Yet the move had less to do with Gonsolin’s ability and more to do with the Dodgers’ desire to keep him on a regular routine and build an innings base after he has battled injuries in the Minors this season.
“With the off days that we have coming, the starting pitching we have, to have him start for OKC on Monday and keep him built up, he’s missed time this year with the oblique injury. So to continue to log innings for the season gives us a good option going forward,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained.
“We expect Tony back at some point soon.”
Gonsolin has only pitched in 15 total games this season between Triple-A and the Majors. He may face a bit of an uphill battle to earn a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation for October.
Hill and Stripling are both expected back by the end of the season, Julio Urias is a candidate to move back to the rotation or pitch in high leverage. With the presence of All-Stars Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, only one spot remains in a projected playoff rotation.
Gonsolin has made one appearance out of the bullpen this season, but it was a positive showing. He allowed just one run on three hits over four innings against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
That bodes well for his chances of making the playoff roster as a reliever. “With Tony, everything is in play,” Roberts said.
“Part of it is it’s been such an abbreviated year for him because of his injuries, so not to say it’s a lost year but you want to make it as productive of a season for him as far as innings pitched. That’s a lot of the driver in where he’s at right now. I can see him in both roles (starter and reliever).”