Tony Jonsulin showed significant improvement as the Dodgers claimed their seventh straight win
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Tony Jonsulin showed significant improvement as the Dodgers claimed their seventh straight win

The Los Angeles Dodgers follow rookie Tony Gonsulin down the field to the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers rookie Tony Jonsulin hit during the fifth inning of a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have won 11 of their last 12 games. (Alex Gallardo/The Associated Press)

Tony JonsulinSaturday night’s first pitch was belted 426 feet to center field for a home run, an inauspicious start Dodgers A right-hander whose grip was on the rotational point, based on his own manager’s prior comments, was starting to look a little weak.

Whether Gonsulin heard a voice Dave Roberts Or not, he pitched the rest of the night like a man fighting for a job, not letting him run, only two more batters, striking out six and not walking in six innings at the end of the game. 4-1 victory Over the Colorado Rockies By 52,515 in Chavez Ravine.

Will Smith hit a solo home run in the first inning, James Ottman He hit a two-run homer in the second, and Amed Rosario He added a solo shot in the seventh inning, as the Dodgers (70-46) extended their winning streak to seven, winning for the 11th time in 12 games and extending their National League West lead over San Francisco to 8 games.

Dodgers’ Ryan Brazier, Brosdar Gratirol and Evan Phillips closed out the game with scoreless innings, with Phillips scoring in the net in the ninth for his 17th save.

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“I thought it was his best outing in some time,” Roberts said of Gonsulin. “I thought every pitcher had conviction. He had a good command of the fastball. He would make pitches when he needed to, bombard the strike zone, and use his entire combination, front to back, top to bottom, in and out. … I think he understands The expectations, the bar, for him, are for us. He realized that tonight.”

A strong start against Colorado will not cause any pitcher to compete for the Cy Young Award. The worst Rockies in the league traded two of their best hitters, CJ Crone and Randall Grichukto Angels in late July and ranked 23rd in baseball in runs and homers and 22nd in on-base percentage plus slugging.

But Saturday night was a marked improvement over the typical starts Gonsolin has delivered for most of the past three and a half months.

He threw off an Ezequiel Tovar homer to hit two of the next three batters in the first inning, retiring from the side by order in the second, third, and fifth innings and coming off a Ryan McMahon double in the fourth inning.

Although the average speed of 91.4 mph for Gonsolin’s four-seam fastball was below his season average of 92.5 mph, he mixed his split-toe fastball and slider effectively with the heater, earning a Six of 14 swing strikes with a splitter.

Gonsolin got a little defensive help from Outman, who made a nice run, jumping off a Brendan Rodgers catch into the wall with a runner on board to finish in the top six, keeping the lead 3-1.

“If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that if you get hit in the face, you keep going,” Gonsolin said of the first pitch he allowed. “But I thought I did a much better job carrying out the presentations today.

“I feel like the delivery was better. It was more consistent. Kind of a tweak I made a few centuries ago, just throwing out of stretch. I think I can repeat the throw and repeat the throw more than once.”

Gonsolin’s overall numbers this season aren’t terrible—he’s 8-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 19 starts, striking out 80 and walking 36 in 99⅔ innings, having missed the first month of the season with a sprained left ankle.

James Ottman celebrates with Dodgers teammate Kiké Hernández after hitting a two-run home run.
James Ottman, right, celebrates with Dodgers teammate Kiké Hernández after he hit a two-run home run against the Rockies in the second inning on Saturday. (Alex Gallardo/The Associated Press)

But he’s never been as dominant or consistent as he was in 2022, when he went 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 24 starts and made his first All-Star team before suffering a forearm strain in late August.

Gonsolin is in no danger of losing his rotational spot — the Dodgers have a huge lead in the division, and they can afford to keep pushing him to the mound in the hopes he regains form in 2022.

But with Clayton Kershaw returning from a shoulder injury Thursday, Julio Llorías starting to pick up his form in 2022, recently acquiring Lance Lane, winning his first three starts, and rookie right-hander Bobby Miller emerging solidly, it will be difficult to justify including Gonsolin in the rotation. Post season now.

“Yeah, it’s no secret that the latter… there was a period of time when he didn’t play well, to be quite frank,” Roberts said before the game. “Looking at the way other players throw baseballs, he’s going to have to play well, and I think he’s going to be the first to tell you that.

“But as we start to get players back and start to kind of improve at the end of the season, we’ll go with our best shooters, and that’s how it should be.”

Roberts said he couldn’t pinpoint a specific cause for Gonsolin’s struggles. The speed of the four-seam fastball has gradually decreased over four seasons, from an average of 95.1 mph in 2020 to 93.8 mph in 2021, 93.1 mph in 2022 and 92.5 mph this season, but There was no sharp decline from 2022 to 2023.

Gonsolin’s break was effective, holding the batter to an average of 175 (20-for-114) in hits ending up entering the field on Saturday, but not as good as last season (. 113 discounted average) and in 2021 (. 106).

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“The only thing I can say is that the execution is not there,” said Roberts. “That could be talking about something. But the pacing sometimes feels the same. The delivery sounds the same. He executes some good splits and the occasional slide. But the general consistency in his performances just wasn’t there.”

short hops

Freddie Freeman was pulled after hitting his right patella with a hit in the seventh inning, but the first baseman, who started every one of the team’s first 116 games, refused to be x-rayed and said he expected to play Sunday. “I was in pain,” said Freeman after the game, “I had a wobbly leg for a second, but I got some ice, and I feel fine.” … reliever Yancy Almonte was placed on the 15-day injured list for a sprained right knee, an injury the right-hander suffered when his cleat got caught in a hole in front of the rubber in the ninth inning on Friday night. 6-1 win over the Rockies. Left-hander Victor Gonzalez was called out. … Mookie Betts was scratched from Saturday night’s game with a stomach virus, but Roberts expects the dynamic forward man to return to the lineup on Sunday.

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This story originally appeared Los Angeles Times.

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