Dodgers @ White Sox June 8, 2022: Gonsolin looks to claw team back into win column

A day after mustering just 1 hit and 1 walk through 6 innings against Michael Kopech in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss, the Dodgers will try their luck against old foe Johnny Cueto as the series against the White Sox continues this evening in Chicago.

The current three-game losing streak means the Dodgers have dropped 6 of their past 8 games against the Pirates, Mets and White Sox. A fourth consecutive loss tonight would match the longest skid of the season which came back on May 11 to May 14 against the Pirates for one game (which is so annoying) and then three straight to the Phillies.

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5:10 PM Chicago
RF Betts 2B Garcia (S)
1B Freeman (L) CF Robert
SS T. Turner 3B Moncada (S)
C Smith 1B Abreu
3B J. Turner C Grandal (S)
CF Bellinger (L) DH Burger
LF Taylor RF Sheets (L)
DH Alvarez (S) LF Pollock
2B Lux SS Mendick
P Gonsolin (R) P Cueto (R)

AJ Pollock didn’t start, but drove in two runs last night off of David Price and gets the start against his former team as does Yasmani Grandal after sitting out last night.

Meanwhile, it’s the same 9 in the lineup for the Dodgers again, who still have very few choices to put in there anyway, with Chris Taylor swapping with Eddy Alvarez near the bottom of the order. Alvarez went 0-for-2 in his DH debut last night, striking out and flying out before Hanser Alberto hit for him in the 7th.

While last night was a pretty rough outing for the offense, it’s been a struggle during this 2-6 stretch as Freddie Freeman is 6-for-27 with 1 XBH and 1 walk his past 6 games, Will Smith is 2-for-14 in his past 5 games but has at least drawn 4 walks, Justin Turner is 4-for-20 in his past 6 games with 4 walks, Cody Bellinger is 2-for-17 with 1 walk in his past 5 … and well that’s 4 of the lineup’s top 6 batters.

So will being reunited with Cueto help solve any of these issues…

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Now 36 years old and with the White Sox after signing a minor league deal with Chicago in early April, Cueto allowed 9 runs in 15 2/3 IP for Triple-A Charlotte before being called up on May 15. In his 4 starts for the White Sox he holds a 2.92 ERA/3.10 FIP/3.91 xFIP in 24 2/3 IP.

His first two outings back in the majors were 6 scoreless innings against the Royals on May 16 with just 2 hits allowed and another scoreless 6 innings against the Yankees on May 22 with 6 hits allowed. The second two games weren’t quite as successful with the Cubs finishing with 9 hits and 5 runs off of Cueto in 6 2/3 innings before the Blue Jays put up 7 hits and 4 runs (3 earned) across 6 innings on June 2.

Honestly, who knows what the Dodgers will see tonight. This will be career start No. 25 for Cueto against the Dodgers, with his lone start against the team last year being 5 2/3 shutout innings on July 29. Back in 2020, the Dodgers put up 11 runs on 15 hits in 13 2/3 innings against Cueto while hitting 3 homers in the 3 starts.

Cueto is a bit different through his 4 starts this season, with Baseball Savant’s graph above showing you the madness of his career usage.

One thing that does stand out is hit 18.4 K%, which ranks 234th of 300 pitchers with at least 20 IP this season on FanGraphs. While his K% has never been significantly better, even in the prime of his career, his Whiff% is down in the 2nd percentile around 375th of the 381 pitchers ranked. The sinker usage has helped boost his GB% from 38.1% last year to 47.4% in his brief tenure in the majors this year, but he’s effectively pitching to contact with it.

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As for Tony Gonsolin, who makes his 11th start of the season tonight with a 1.59 ERA/3.04 FIP/3.51 xFIP, the 28-year-old is coming off of 6 scoreless innings against the Mets with just 2 hits and 1 walk allowed. Gonsolin hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs in a game this season and has hit at least 5 IP in his past 6 starts.

Maybe more impressively, he’s walked just 4 in his past 4 starts (24 innings) with 12 hits allowed. Last season, Gonsolin’s BB% ballooned up to 14.2% in his 33 2/3 innings. Of those 15 appearances, he walked at least 3 batters 5 times and surpassed 6 IP 0 times. Now back down to 8.7%, much closer to the 9.2% from his debut season of 40 IP in 2019 and the 4.0% in 46 2/3 IP in 2020, Gonsolin has picked back up his splitter usage.

Dipping to 21.7% last season, it’s at 28.2% this season. That’s really regardless of the batter’s handedness, as it’s jumped back up nearly 7% to righties and 5% to lefties this year. It’s primarily been the result of a continued drop on his fastball usage, now at 35.0% from the 47.9%, 47.5% and 43.6% over his first three major league seasons.

Gonsolin’s plate discipline changes from last year are probably worth a deeper look at some point, but here’s a the basic overview for now.

The uptick in Meatball % with a massive drop in Meatball Swing % really stands out.

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To cap off what accidentally became a pretty long Game Thread, here’s the news for the day.

We can welcome back Clayton Kershaw in a few days.

And it may be even less time before Max Muncy returns.

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Lastly, you can now vote for the All-Star Game, which of course is finally set for Dodger Stadium.

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First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. PT with the bad weather in Chicago appearing to have passed through.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.