The Los Angeles Dodgers have the deepest pitching in all of baseball, which leaves talented arms like Tony Gonsolin without a role on the big-league club.
The one constant for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the team’s seven-year NL West-winning run is that the team has had elite pitching. That looks to be the same in 2020, as the Dodgers have one of the deepest pitching staffs we have seen.
Headlined by Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and David Price, the Dodgers could field an entire second starting rotation that would be better than some team’s actual starting rotation. One of the arms that would be included in that second starting rotation would be second-year pitcher, Tony Gonsolin.
Gonsolin rose quickly through the minor league ranks in 2019 and made a sustained impact on the big-league team late in the season, pitching excellent both out of the bullpen and as a starter late in the year.
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Albeit in a small sample size, Gonsolin has carried his success over to Spring Training, which should not be taken too heavily. Gonsolin has thrown five and two-thirds innings in Spring Training, allowing three hits, one walk and no runs. He has struck out six.
Despite a strong showing in spring, chances are that Gonsolin does not make the Opening Day roster. It still has not been announced whether or not he will but we do know for certain that he is not making the Opening Day starting rotation, which consists of Kershaw, Buehler, Price, Julio Urias and Alex Wood.
That leaves eight more spots for pitchers in the bullpen, which when we boil it down, does not leave a spot for Gonsolin.
Ross Stripling, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez and Blake Treinen are all locks, assuming they are all healthy. Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson and Adam Kolarek are the team’s bullpen southpaws. With none of the other pitchers listed above being left-handed, as least two will make the team.
And while you could make the case that Gonsolin is the best option of the bunch, he probably will not get the nod. Hopefully, it goes to Graterol, who has elite stuff and can be a huge arm in the bullpen, but I would not be surprised if he starts the year in AAA as well.
The reason being, which also applies to Gonsolin, is that the Dodgers are going to give the established players that are running out of minor-league options a chance to lose their job. That means Floro making the bullpen over Gonsolin.
Is Floro a better pitcher than Gonsolin? No. But this would be viewed as Floro’s last chance to sustain a legitimate role in the bullpen, and if he loses that spot to Gonsolin, then it is over. That is assuming that the spot doesn’t just go to Graterol.
You could make the same case about some of the others on the list, such as Alexander or Kolarek. Despite the fact that they are left-handed, Alexander and Kolarek are going to be given the chance to lose their jobs to start the year, and once they do, it might be too-little-too-late.
The only thing that really matters with Gonsolin, and potentially Graterol, is that they are ready to go in the playoffs to potentially be an impact arm out of the bullpen. This is not the playoff roster the team is constructing, it is the Opening Day roster.
Sometimes that means letting the more talented, younger, pitcher start in AAA to continue a consistent workflow until opportunity knocks.
Tony Gonsolin absolutely could make the Opening Day roster for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just don’t be surprised if he doesn’t, and don’t freak out, either.