Tony has patterned his play after former Derek Jeter, who is the type of player he wants to become someday. There was something about the way Jeter took command of the infield that imprinted on Gonsolin. He is inspired by the way Jeter scratched and clawed for everything all the time when as a star player it might have been permissible to take a play off now and then.
“I loved how he played and went about his business,” said Gonsolin of Jeter. “He was definitely a hard worker. He didn’t seem like one of the most talented people out there, but he just got it done and did things the right way. He carried himself well.” (Harold Uhlman, Think Blue La. com, Aug 9, 2016)
Tony attended St. Mary's College, a Catholic college near San Francisco. He played both ways as the Gaels’ starting right fielder and top reliever.
June 2016: The Dodgers chose Gonsolin in the 9th round, out of St. Mary's College in California. He signed with scout Tom Kunis for just $2,500.
Tony, set to make his MLB debut as the starter on June 26, 2019, was in the Dodgers' clubhouse June 25 to get acclimated for his activation. He got the callup news from Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary.
“My heart started racing, started sweating immediately—excitement, nervousness, anxious, all the emotions flooded me at once,” said Gonsolin, who has overcome the odds to make the big leagues in his fourth professional season. “Just need to relax tomorrow and let it happen." (Gurnick - mlb.com - 6/25/19)
2019 Season: Gonsolin started six games for the Dodgers and made five relief appearances out of the pen. Over his 11 games, Gonsolin picked up four wins and maintained a 2.93 ERA, while taking two losses. As a starter, Gonsolin went 2-2 over 28 innings. He struck out 24 while allowing 11 runs (nine earned) on 20 hits. In relief, he earned two more wins and gave up four runs over 12 innings on six hits, striking out 13. At the plate, Gonsolin was a force to be reckoned with, going 4-for-13 (.308), with a run batted in.
Gonsolin would definitely be a great option for the Dodgers starting rotation next season, but could also be a great asset out of the pen. Either way, Gonsolin should make the opening day roster.
In 2020, Baseball America rated Tony as the 4th-best prospect in the Dodgers organization.
In 2020, Gonsolin became an unexpected breakout star at age 26. Despite being undrafted out of high school and subsequently bouncing around other professional baseball leagues at the beginning of his career, the young Dodger proved he belonged in MLB.
Tony’s 2.31 ERA and 46 Ks over 46.2 innings pitched make him an intriguing option moving forward. If this season has been any indication, Gonsolin should have a place in the latter half of LA’s rotation as early as next season.
Gonsolin loves the furry felines. His glove says: The Catman.
Gonsolin’s profile figures to grow beyond the four-word description repeatedly aired on national television during the postseason: “part man, part cat.”
If cats are his calling card for now, he wants to play that card to help minor leaguers. When his team took the field for the clinching game of the World Series, Gonsolin wore “LA” on his head, “Dodgers” on his jersey, and a cat on his cleats.
“I got to wear these custom cleats in the biggest game I have ever pitched in,” he said. “It was an awesome experience to spread my love for cats around.”
More Than Baseball, a nonprofit organization launched by current and former minor leaguers to help minor league players, invited Gonsolin to design his own cleats. He sent along a picture of his favorite cat, the Maine Coon.
Stadium Custom Kicks, a company founded by a current minor leaguer, turned Gonsolin’s vision into a unique pair of cleats. Gonsolin won the World Series in them.
“I’m definitely doing it just for the cause,” Gonsolin said. “That’s more important to me than having the actual cleats in my possession.”
Gonsolin owns a couple dozen cat-themed T-shirts. He stepped off the team bus last October wearing one that said “PAWS” in big, bold letters, a parody of “Jaws,” the legendary shark-attack thriller. On the T-shirt, a menacing cat lurks underwater, poised to rise from the sea and inflict terror upon unsuspecting inhabitants on the surface.
“It’s a lot of fun for me, to talk about that and communicate with fans about it, but I want people to see me as a pitcher, as someone who is succeeding and who has a bright future,” he said.
“That’s what I’m doing and hopefully making a name for myself with, but I’m fine with the underlying ‘Oh, he likes cats.’”
He does not actually own a cat. He does not know where he will live this year. Wherever that might be, he knows he will have to travel.
“I wouldn’t want to put that kind of stress on any animal, as of right now,” Gonsolin said. “I wanted to be a good cat dad.” (Bill Shakain - Feb 16, 2021)
If you believe there’s no room for fun on a baseball diamond, the Dodgers would like to show you otherwise. On September 30, 2021, that fun came in the form of some feline-themed cleats.
Tony, a known cat lover who often sports cat-themed shirts around the Dodgers' clubhouse, took the hill that day having found another way to represent his furry friends through fashion. He sported white and blue Mizuno cleats that featured black and brown furry laces resembling cat hair on each foot and had a photo of a feline on his right heel. (Guerrero - mlb.com - 9/30/2021)
July 2022: Gonsolin was selected to the MLB All-Star Game.
- Jan. 31, 2023: Gonsolin avoided arbitration. He had been seeking a $3.4 million salary for 2023, while the Dodgers were offering $3 million. The settlement will see him make $3.25 million this year and a minimum of $3.4 million in 2024. That deal also has built-in incentives for the ‘24 season that will allow Gonsolin to earn more money depending on how many starts he makes.
|Birth City:||Vacaville, CA|
|Draft:||Dodgers #9 - 2016 - Out of St. Mary's College (CA)|
|2016||2||2 teams: OGD-GL||19||31||29||25||8||0||0||0||4||1||2||3.77|
|2017||2||2 teams: GL-RC||42||70||69||85||18||0||0||0||6||7||6||3.86|
Tony's FASTBALL sits around 94-99 mph. It is thrown with a late explosion at the plate, with a 60 grade. His 80-81 mph CURVEBALL is tight at 82-83 mph with depth and a 55 grade.
He has an 87-88 mph short SLIDER that is 50 grade with nice spin and shape. And, he has a devastating 85-87 mph SPLIT-CHANGEUP that is a 70 grade and gives him a different look.
Gonsolin pitches aggressively and is unafraid to throw his fastball to any part of the strike zone. He mixes his pitches well and throws all his pitches for strikes, with 50 grade Control, except on outings where he scatters his pitches. (Spring, 2020)
Tony's control is normally average and his pitches are lively and effective.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 48.3% of the time; Slider 16.9%; Curve 10.1%; and Split 24.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.6, Slider 88, Curve 80.5, and Split 86.5 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 46.8% of the time; Slider 18.2%; Curve 5.2%; and Split 29.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 95.2, Slider 87.9, Curve 81.9, and Split 85.1 mph.
2022 Season Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 39.6% - 93 mph; Split 27% 83.5 mph; Slider 21.4% - 87.5 mph; Curve 12% - 80.6 mph.
2018 Season: Tony has gone from a reliever throwing 88-92 mph at the start of 2017 to touching 100 by the end of that season. Then he transitioned into the rotation and sat in the mid-90s with an often-unhittable curveball and changeup.
Tony discusses his change-up and spitter:
“I got drafted in 2016, and my changeup was not good. Period. So I went to the Instructional League at the end of ’16, and I was put in this ‘changeup-challenge group.’ Basically, every outing we were encouraged to throw changeups. Use it first pitch. Use it behind in the count. Use it ahead in the count. Try to get swings-and-misses with it. All of that stuff. And I ended up doing reasonably well with it. I threw it a lot, and had a little bit of success with it. This was with a conventional two-seam circle changeup.
“Then I came into spring of 2017 and met Joel Peralta. He used to pitch with the Rays, and a couple of other teams, and he’s known for his splitty. He showed me a grip, and that kind of morphed into my own little split/change thing. I got a lot of reps with it in 2017 — I tried to throw it a bunch — and there were definitely days where it was better than others. Then, in 2018, the feel kind of just clicked for me. Being a starter that year, I got the opportunity to throw it a lot.
“Our pitching coordinator in 2017 was Brandon Gomes. He said, ‘Hey, we know you’re working on a changeup, have Peralta take a look.’ He and Peralta had played together. It was kind of a, ‘See if you want to throw a split’ kind of thing. He gave me the idea to go talk to Peralta, I gave it a shot, and it kind of progressed from there. It’s developed into a go-to pitch for me."
Tony Gonsolin’s splitter grip:
“I’m basically throwing it like a fastball. Same intent, same arm speed. I’m trying to make it look like a fastball until it isn’t. I might be [pronating] a little bit, but I don’t know if I’m physically trying to do that, or if it’s more that my body is taking over naturally.
“I need to stay behind it. If my front side opens up to where I’m not behind the baseball — I’m more on the side of it — it becomes like a pushed, up-and-arm-side miss, rather than the nice ‘straight out of the hand, looks like a fastball, then isn’t.’ When I throw it right, it has both drop and a good amount of fade.” (David Laurila - March 24, 2020)
Top rookie Statcast performers of 2020:
Best fastball: Tony Gonsolin—.207 wOBA. While Gonsolin didn’t make as many Pitching Ninja appearances as fellow Dodgers rookie Dustin May, he did have a better season, posting a 2.31 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 46 strikeouts in 46.2 innings.
A four-seam fastball that averaged 95.1 mph was at the heart of Gonsolin’s success, as hitters went just 17-for-89 (.191) with a .207 wOBA against the pitch, which Gonsolin threw 47.5 percent of the time.
- In 2020, Gonsolin was named Baseball America's Major League Rookie of the Year.
From Gonsolin’s first start on July 31 to the end of the season, he reeled off a string of solid outings. He tallied 16.2 scoreless innings to start the season. Among all pitchers with at least 40 innings, rookies and veterans alike, he ranked 11th in ERA (2.31), fourth in WHIP (0.84), eighth in home run rate (0.39 per nine innings) and ninth in both walk rate (1.4 per nine) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.57). Opponents hit just .193/.229/.289.
Tony keeps hitters from getting comfortable with his plus command and control and his ability to attack different quadrants of the strike zone. He can both elevate and work down in the zone with his mid-90s fastball, while his split-changeup and slider are effective down in the zone as swing-and-miss pitches. (JJ Cooper - Baseball America - Nov., 2020)
- 2020 Season: Gonsolin was a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers in 2020, but he didn’t come out of nowhere. Gonsolin built off a solid 2019 showing and went into this season as one of the team’s top pitching prospects, but few would have predicted that the Catman would be one of the team’s most effective pitchers.
He finished the shortened 2020 season with a 2.31 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 46 strikeouts over 46.2 innings in nine games (eight starts). These numbers were impressive enough to garner a fourth-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, one spot ahead of flame-throwing teammate Dustin May.
Gonsolin issued only seven free passes, good for a microscopic 4.0% walk rate, which puts him in the league’s 95th percentile. The advanced metrics favor Gonsolin as well — his fastball spin rate (91st percentile), fastball velocity (81st percentile), and barrel percentage, xBA, and xwOBA (77th percentile) further bolstered his resume.
He also finished the year with an impressive 2.29 FIP. The sample size is small; Gonsolin only has 86.2 regular season innings at the Major League level under his belt, but he appears to have the tools to remain a capable MLB starter. His fastball doesn’t sit at triple digits, nor does he feature a wipeout breaking ball, but he has a solid four-pitch mix with excellent control.
He struggled in the postseason, walking two more batters than he did in the regular season, but still pitched better than his 8.68 ERA indicated. The Dodgers trusted the rookie to toe the rubber for two World Series games, and although he only went three combined innings, he kept the team in the game on both occasions.
Not bad for a guy who started the season at the alternate training site. (Sean Kaufman - Nov. 29, 2020)
In 2020, Gonsolin's best pitch was his slider. Making up about 17% of his arsenal, Tony Gonsolin’s slider is a thing of beauty. Gonsolin used this pitch more times than not to right-handed batters who, at best, struggled. The slider produced a 28% swinging strike rate which was good for the 11th highest mark of any pitch in the NL in 2020. Toss in an outside the zone swing rate on 50% and you can see how difficult it was for hitters to do much with this pitch. (Shawn Barletta - March 30, 2021)
As of the start of the 2022 season, Tony has a career record of 10-5 with 2.85 ERA, having allowed 14 home runs and 99 hits in 142 innings.
2022 Season: Tony Gonsolin had the best year of his career, a magnificent campaign that was derailed by a late injury and another postseason disappointment.
Outside of the lack of being built up like just about every pitcher after the lockout to open the season, Gonsolin came out of the gate strong. He allowed four runs in four starts in April, six runs in five starts in May, and four runs in five starts in June. That’s a perfect recipe for an 11-0 start with a 1.62 ERA when he was named to his first All-Star team on July 10.
Gonsolin was a players selection to the midsummer classic, a sign of respect from a group that had trouble hitting the right-hander for well over three months.
What worked for Gonsolin were his splitter and slider, which accounted for nearly half (49 percent) of his pitches. Opposing batters hit just .122 with a paltry .200 slugging percentage in at-bats that ended on either of those pitches. The splitter and slider finished off 89 of Gonsolin’s 119 strikeouts on the season.
They also helped him to be more efficient and, for the first time over an extended period in his career, last deeper into games. Gonsolin lasted at least six innings in six consecutive starts in May and June, one more than his total over his first three seasons.
After a brief blip in July, allowing 12 runs in 16 innings over three starts, Gonsolin recovered to allow four runs in four August starts.
Gonsolin was leading the National League with a 2.10 ERA when he landed on the injured list on August 29. Both Gonsolin and the team were publicly hopeful he would miss only two starts with a right forearm strain, but instead it derailed the rest of his season, missing over a month.
Gonsolin made one minor league rehab start, two innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City on September 27, then pitched two innings for the Dodgers in the final series of the season. Both starts featured Gonsolin jogging down to the bullpen to pitch another inning after his game was over, a spring training practice to build up arm strength, only this time it was to prepare for the playoffs.
The long layoff afforded Gonsolin another chance to stretch out, pitching a simulated game prior to the NLDS, but that was it.
Game 3 of the Division Series against the Padres got thrown onto the growing pile of underwhelming postseason appearances for Gonsolin, who would probably kill for a normal run up to October at this point.
In 2020, Gonsolin was the fourth starter on a team that swept through the first two rounds, so Gonsolin went 16 days between games before his first playoff start. In 2021, shoulder inflammation required two long injured list stints, and he was limited to relief duty in October. This year, Gonsolin faced nine batters in Game 3 of the NLDS, his second major league start over the previous seven weeks, and allowed five of them to reach. It was a miracle he only allowed one run in his four-out affair.
Gonsolin’s 130⅓ innings in the majors this season were by far his career high. For a while it looked like he would smash his professional innings high, but thanks to the late injury he didn’t quite get to his 2018 total. That year, Gonsolin pitched 139⅔ innings between High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Double-A Tulsa, and the playoffs. This year, between the majors, minor league rehab, and the postseason, Gonsolin totaled 133⅔ innings, which was still more than his previous two year combined.
In all, Gonsolin’s season was superb, and there’s a lot to like going forward. But the ending was unfortunate and putrid, and resembled an M. Night Shyamalan movie instead of a storybook baseball ending.
Stats: 16-1, 2.41 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 3.12 xERA, 130⅓ innings, 119 K, 35 BB ( Eric Stephen@ericstephen Nov 2, 2022)
- Tony is a dangerous hitter for a pitcher.
April 2-May 26, 2019: Gonsolin was on the IL.
July 2, 2020: Tony was on the IL due to a positive coronavirus test a week before preseason workouts.
"There’s no way to prove it, but I’m pretty sure I got a false positive," Gonsolin said. "I tested positive once and have not tested positive since then."
April 4-June 9, 2021: Tony was on the IL with right shoulder inflammation.
July 31-Sept 9, 2021: The Dodgers placed Gonsolin on the 10-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation.
Aug. 29-Oct 3, 2022: The Dodgers placed Gonsolin on the 15-day injured list due to a right forearm strain.
March 6-April 26, 2023: -- Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin sustained a left ankle sprain while going through a drill on the backfields at Camelback Ranch. He is expected to miss opening day.
Narch 27, 2023: Gonsolin rolled his left ankle while going through a drill on the backfields on March 6, which will keep him out of the Dodgers' rotation to start the season. Gonsolin threw a bullpen session of around 20-25 pitches on March 27, and manager Dave Roberts said the right-hander is still "a ways away," with the club targeting the end of April for his return.
April 10, 2023: Roberts gave an update on Gonsolin (left ankle sprain). Roberts said Gonsolin's recovery is "slow-going," and his timeline for a return has been pushed back to early May.