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Gonsolin brilliant in spot start for Dodgers

Club's No. 5 prospect whiffs career-high eight in 4 2/3 frames
Tony Gonsolin bested his previous career high of seven strikeouts, set last Aug. 5 against the Cardinals. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
August 13, 2020

News of the Padres' high-powered offense must not have reached Tony Gonsolin at his club's alternate training site. The fifth-ranked Dodgers prospect held their division rival scoreless for 4 2/3 innings, yielding three hits and a walk with a career-high eight strikeouts in Los Angeles' 6-0 victory over San Diego

News of the Padres' high-powered offense must not have reached Tony Gonsolin at his club's alternate training site.

The fifth-ranked Dodgers prospect held their division rival scoreless for 4 2/3 innings, yielding three hits and a walk with a career-high eight strikeouts in Los Angeles' 6-0 victory over San Diego at Dodger Stadium. Gonsolin was recalled Wednesday afternoon for his second start of the season.

"Tony got us off to a good start and was in command from pitch one. The split/change was on point," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the game. "I don't know if it's surprising. I'm just really proud of him with just how he's handled everything. ... To obviously stay the course and be ready, he's done a great job for us."

The Padres, who rank third in the National League in scoring, put Gonsolin in some early trouble following consecutive one-out singles by Trent Grisham and Manny Machado in the opening frame. But the 26-year-old rebounded and settled in to retire the next 11 in order, striking out the side in the second and fourth innings during his spotless streak.

"I feel like, top to bottom, you know [the Padres' lineup] can do some damage," Gonsolin said. "They definitely have their guys that know they can get you. Their like top five or six or so will really hammer some mistakes. But it was nice to be able to go through that lineup a couple times and get the results that I got."

Gonsolin issued a walk to Wil Myers to start the fifth, then fanned Greg Garcia and got Francisco Mejia to pop to third base before Jurickson Profar ended his night with a bloop hit into center field. Blake Treinen finished off the frame and completed Gonsolin's line and kept his ERA spotless with a strikeout of Fernando Tatis Jr.

"Earned run average is whatever," Gonsolin said. "Treinen came in and ... shut down that inning and picked me up out there."

The right-hander set the Padres down swinging on seven of his eight strikeouts. Gonsolin felt he was effective in getting a lot of swings-and-misses due to his ability to locate his off-speed pitches. Unlike his first start this season, he did not feel he had the best command of his fastball.

"We definitely had the changeup and split going," he said. "Probably the biggest contributor to that was being able to land it. ... Kind of later in the game, after that second inning there, I started using some of the breaking balls a little bit more and I was able to land those as well."

His previous Major League high of seven strikeouts -- five swinging -- came last year in a six-inning stint against the Cardinals on Aug. 5. Gonsolin recorded his Minor League-best 11 strikeouts twice, both in July 2018, at two different levels.

Pitching for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga against Lancaster on July 10, he recorded nine of 11 punchouts swinging. Three starts later with Double-A Tulsa on July 26, a month after his MLB debut, Gonsolin punched out eight Arkansas batters swinging.

The righty made one other appearance for the Dodgers this season, starting against the D-backs on July 31. He yielded a hit and a walk while striking out one over four innings in that game. Wednesday marked the sixth time since his MLB debut last June that the Vacaville, California, native was recalled to the Majors. But unlike the other times he's been sent down, Gonsolin faces the challenge of not being able to pitch in live games before his next call.

"You're still playing the same uniform, so to get that adrenaline, but to be mindful that you can be called up at any moment's notice, you got to be prepared," Roberts said. "That's hard. It's different. But a credit to all those guys that are doing it and the coaches as well that are over there."

He was a late arrival to Summer Camp after testing positive for COVID-19. Gonsolin said he believed it was a false positive, and he hasn't tested positive since. But the delay put him in a situation in which he's had to spend more time at the club's alternate training site at the University of Southern California. According to Gonsolin, there's enough talent at USC to keep him on his toes, though.

"Down at our offsite place, we have some guys that are just fantastic hitters, you know," he said. "Just swinging the bats well down there, chomping at the bit to get up here and help the team out."

Roberts was non-committal about the Dodgers' rotation plans moving forward. Nevertheless, he was impressed by the rookie.

"I think that Tony has done everything he needed to do to earn another start," the skipper said. "It's going to be a good discussion and we'll see what happens."

In 270 1/3 innings in the Minors, Gonsolin sports a 3.33 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP, a .236 average-against and 315 strikeouts (10.49 K/9). He pitched exclusively for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year, posting a 4.35 ERA in 13 starts with 10.89 K/9 in 41 1/3 innings.

Brusdar Graterol, MLB.com's No. 92 overall prospect, allowed one hit and struck out one in the eighth to lower his ERA to 4.70 over eight appearances for Los Angeles.

Dodgers' No. 21 prospect Edwin Rios collected two hits and an RBI. He's hitting .273 in 11 games.

In other action:

White Sox 7, Tigers 5

Top White Sox prospect Luis Robert drove in a season-high three runs with a go-ahead bases-clearing double to right off Matthew Boyd in the fifth. He scored on a double by Nomar Mazara later in the frame. MLB.com’s No. 3 overall prospect has seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs through 19 games this season. Chicago’s 19th-ranked prospect Danny Mendick went hitless in four trips to the plate. In his season debut, Detroit’s No. 7 prospect Willi Castro crushed a two-run homer to right off Dylan Cease in the fourth. He added a pair of base knocks to finish 3-for-4 on the afternoon. Tigers' No. 18 prospect Bryan Garcia worked around a hit and fanned one in a scoreless seventh. Box score

A’s 8, Angels 4

Second-ranked A’s prospect Sean Murphy reached base safely three times with a single and a pair of walks. He also scored Oakland’s final run on Ramon Laureano's knock in the eighth. Top Angels prospect Jo Adell did not record a hit in three at-bats. Box score

Mets 11, Nationals 6

Andres Gimenez got the start at shortstop for the fourth consecutive game with Amed Rosario and Robinson Cano sidelined. The third-ranked Mets prospect put New York ahead for good with a liner into right in the four-run first. The knock was the Mets’ third consecutive two-out RBI hit. The No. 93 overall prospect also stole second base without a throw, his third of the year. The 21-year-old is batting .283/.313/.391 with three extra-base hits in 41 at-bats this season. Box score

Astros 5, Giants 1

Abraham Toro singled to right and scored on Martin Maldonado's three-run homer in the sixth. The third-ranked Astros prospect also walked in his first game in five days, filling in to give Jose Altuve a rest. Toro is batting .174/.296/.348 with a homer and two RBIs this year. Box score

D-backs 13, Rockies 7

Sam Hilliard entered the game as a defensive replacement in the third after Chris Owings exited with hamstring tightness. The Rockies No. 12 prospect singled up the middle to start the seventh and walked and scored on Ryan McMahon’s homer in the fourth. Hilliard’s knock snapped an 0-for-9 skid. The 26-year-old is batting .194/.286/.323 with two extra-base hits and three RBIs in 31 at-bats. Box score

Cubs 7, Indians 2

Although James Karinchak yielded his first earned run of the season, the Indians No. 16 prospect still showed some brilliance. Karinchak recorded all four outs via the strikeout, including a three-pitch whiff of his first opponent, Ian Happ, for the final out of the seventh. The 24-year-old walked a pair ahead of Jason Kipnis’ one-out RBI double in the eighth, then punched out Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to strand a pair of runners in scoring position. Karinchak sports a 1.04 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. Box score

Royals 5, Reds 4

Coming off his first Major League start, Reds No. 24 prospect Tejay Antone yielded a run on a hit and a walk with four strikeouts over two innings of relief. After a walk to Nicky Lopez to start the sixth, All-Star backstop Salvador Perez roped an RBI double on an 0-2 sinker by Antone. The righty settled in to retire the next four batters in order, three via the strikeout. The 26-year-old has a 2.53 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. Box score

Yankees 6, Braves 3

Atlanta’s 11th-ranked prospect Huascar Ynoa did not factor into the decision in his second start of the season, yielding a pair of runs on four hits and three walks in the opening frame. The right-hander logged three innings in two big league relief appearances last year for the Braves. Box score

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @Gerard_Gilberto.