Last year’s version of Tony Gonsolin reappeared for a brief moment on Wednesday night.
The right-hander gave up a home run and a double to start the fifth inning, then worked his way through a lengthy at-bat that ended in a walk.
His litter count started to increase. His sub-weapons looked a little off balance. And the bullpen began to stir as pitching coach Mark Prior came to the mound.
But then this year’s new and improved version of Gonsolin came back.
He brought out the next three batters to limit damage in the fifth, returned to the mound for an impressive sixth inning and finished his start with the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, back in possession of the ERA National League lead and lowered his mark to 1.58 in a six-inning one-run jewel.
“I’ve done pretty well so far [this season]’ said Gonsolin. “I hope it continues.”
There have been few signs of late that Gonsolin will not.
Wednesday was his fifth straight six-inning start. He has retired on all two runs or less.
It was his fourth straight appearance by a stroke or less, a big improvement on one of his biggest issues over an inconsistent and injury-plagued performance in 2021.
And it was his eighth straight game with at least five strikeouts. The 28-year-old reached this mark on Wednesday without much feeling for his slider or splitter.
“This is one of those [nights] where you might not have your best stuff as far as command goes, but he can navigate a lineup,” said manager Dave Roberts, adding, “You can count on him to make pitches now. … Just continued growth on Tony’s part.”
Gave an early three-run lead after homers from Will Smith and Cody Bellinger — Trea Turner also went deep Wednesday, the 10th time this year the Dodgers (36-20) have hit at least three homers in a game — Gonsolin (7th -0) cruised through the first four innings, delivering just two baserunners and throwing just 49 pitches.
Finally, there were problems in the fifth.
Jake Burger lined a full-count fastball to the left for a solo blast. Gavin Sheets hooked a curveball into the gap for a double. AJ Pollock drew Gonsolin’s lonely walk and put the potential starting gun on the plate and in front of the mound.
“Prior came out,” Gonsolin later recalled, “just saying, ‘One by one.'”
Gonsolin obeyed, grabbing a fielder’s choice grounder from Danny Mendick, burying a splinter refereed by Leury Garcia for the third shot, and then escaping the jam with a routine flyout from Luis Robert that ended the inning.
After Roberts allowed the sixth inning despite the middle of the lineup being due a third time by the White Sox (26-28), Gonsolin pulled the team back in turn, collecting his fourth and fifth strikeouts before confidently strutting off the mound – Passing a lead to the bullpen that the Dodgers wouldn’t give up.
“[He’s] trusts his stuff in the strike zone and understands how to navigate a lineup,” said Roberts.
Kershaw, Muncy about to return
The Dodgers could soon get two veterans back.
Clayton Kershaw (lower back SIJ) is expected to start Sunday’s game in San Francisco against the Giants, Roberts said after the left-hander threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday.
Max Muncy (left elbow) could be back early, according to Roberts, who said there’s a decent possibility the infielder will return to the Dodgers Wednesday after a week-long rehab stint at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Despite going two for 14 in four rehab games with six strikeouts, Muncy hit a walk-off home run Tuesday night and walked three times.
“The arm feels good, the body feels good,” Roberts said. “We wanted to let him drive and when he felt good enough to play again, that was it. We’re comfortable with that.”
Roberts was asked if Muncy, who is batting just a .150 in 41 major league games this season and was joined in Oklahoma City by assistant coach Aaron Bates, would have been better off continuing his stint in rehab until he gets more consistent results.
“Certainly [the results] never mind – they’re not that important there – but talking to Aaron and talking to Max, they’re both confident,” Roberts said. “If you build on getting a few more hits, [that] would definitely be better. But I have faith that both of these guys are feeling good and ready to come back.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-06-08/dodgers-tony-gonsolin-strong-outing-4-1-win-white-sox Dodgers back Tony Gonsolin’s strong outing in win over White Sox