Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin had a breakout year in 2022, going 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA and spending the summer as a legitimate Cy Young candidate before a forearm injury derailed his season. The right-hander made his first All-Star team and posted an outstanding 0.875 WHIP.
Los Angeles pitching coach Mark Prior was on MLB Network Radio this week and talked about the next step for Gonsolin. Prior is an interviewer’s dream — you ask him one little question and then he just talks for several minutes and tells you everything you could want to know.
“I thought he had an unbelievable year last year, but he ran into a little bit of trouble there at the end of the year with a little bit of a forearm issue but came back for the playoffs. And you know, the thing is, I think we talked about him and we’ve had this conversation in years past with with Walker [Buehler] and Julio [Urias], it’s how do we how do we go from 134 innings and kind of a fragmented season to, how do you go wire to wire? And I think that’s where you, as a starting pitcher, you take that next step.
“It’s great to have flashes and runs of success or performance, but what truly makes the great great, you know, the Verlanders and Scherzers and Kershaws and these guys, is the ability to go almost wire to wire, you know, Opening Day to the end of the season. And it’s, can you get those 27, 28, 29 starts and those 160-180 innings or 190 innings, whatever it is.
“And those are the conversations we’ve had since last year, a lot of that starts with his preparation in the offseason, you know, and he’s killed it from an offseason programming. I think he understands what it’s gonna take for him to be able to do that, understanding the work that you have to do to lay the foundation in the winter months, as well as things that we’ve talked about. Like, what does that mean between start 11 and 12, and my arm’s feeling this way, and how do I manage my workload in between starts? All those little things that allow the best to go out and pitch every fifth or sixth day, those are things that now he has a better understanding because he’s experienced it.
“It’s conversations you have with these guys, even in the minor leagues, about what it’s like, but talk is cheap in some respects from a coach, and until these guys physically feel it, live it, and understand the demands of what that does to your body, then they can go out and have a better idea of how to prepare for it, and then adjust and be able to adapt within the season to make sure they’re putting themselves in the best position to be successful.
“I think as far as what Tony does, I think it’s the same playbook as he did last year, from the standpoint of he dominated the strikezone, he got into counts, he filled up the strikezone, and then he was able to, when he got the opportunity, if it got to two strikes, he was able to convert.”
Prior is an outstanding pitching coach, and this is the sort of cerebral answer that shows why. The plan for Gonsolin will be different from the plan for Dustin May or Noah Syndergaard or Clayton Kershaw or Julio Urias, even though the goal for each is the same. To hear Prior talk specifically about what he’s looking for from Gonsolin this year is pretty great.
Can Gonsolin take that next step to be a “wire to wire” pitcher in 2023? If so, it could be another great year for the Catman.
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