Angels @ Dodgers June 14, 2022: Tony Gonsolin, The Stopper – Part 2?

Last week, Tony Gonsolin helped lead the Dodgers to a 4-1 victory over the White Sox as the team had dropped 6 of its previous 8 games.

Well here we are six days later and take a look at that… the Dodgers have once again lost 6 of their past 8 games after being swept in San Francisco by the Giants this past weekend. Gonsolin will face off with Noah Syndergaard as he makes his 10th start for the Anaheim Angels. I feel like I mentioned this last season, but while the Dodgers hold a .622 (542-329) win percentage since 2016 to the Angels .470 (409-461), the teams have split the past 30 games with 15 wins apiece in the same time span.

While the Dodgers past two weeks have been a bit frustrating, sitting at a 4-9 record since May 30, the Angels notably lost 14 straight, which ultimately cost Joe Maddon his job, before splitting the past four games. Now 29-33 after sitting at 27-17 on May 24, the Angels went from being a game out of first in the AL West to 8.5 back of the Astros entering Tuesday night.

Image Image
7:10 PM Los Angeles
RF Ward RF Betts
CF Trout 1B Freeman (L)
DH Ohtani (L) SS T. Turner
3B Rendon 3B Muncy (L)
1B Walsh (L) C Smith
C Stassi DH J. Turner
LF Marsh (L) CF Bellinger (L)
SS Velazquez (S) LF Taylor
2B Wade (L) 2B Lux
P Syndergaard (R) P Gonsolin (R)

For the Dodgers, Chris Taylor is back after running into the wall on Sunday with Justin Turner the DH thanks to Max Muncy.

Taylor Ward is back off the IL for the Angels after being out since June 3, which is a pretty significant addition for the Angels. Ward is hitting .333/.443/.644/1.087 in 158 PAs this season. To say that is the best stretch of his career is probably an understatement for a guy who had been worth 0.1 WAR across 534 PAs in parts of 4 seasons so far. At 2.4 WAR on FanGraphs, Ward is tied for 14th in all of baseball while his wRC+ of 209 is the best in the league for any player with at least 150 PAs this season.

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Back at Gonsolin’s last start, when I made the pun that irritated Chad, I pointed out he had walked just 4 in his past 4 starts that covered 24 innings. Now we can make that 5 walks in 5 starts across 30 IP as he went out and once again put together a 6 inning outing with just 1 walk and just 1 run allowed.

Leaning slightly more on the fastball, throwing it on 44% of his 84 pitches against the White Sox, Gonsolin did draw 10 called strikes with a pair of Whiffs. Meanwhile, his cutter managed just 5 swings that included 2 Whiffs, 2 fouls and one ball in play (a groundout in the 1st) and 2 called strikes. Given that he threw it 18 times, that’s 11 balls for his best pitch. Point being even without his best stuff last week, Gonsolin put together another very strong start.

Entering tonight’s start, Gonsolin is second in the NL in ERA (1.58), 16th in K% (24.8%), 19th in K-BB% (16.5%), 1st in LOB% (88.1%), 1st in BABIP (.193) and 12th in HR/FB% (7.5%) among pitchers with at least 50 IP. Obviously I listed a few things there that could cause some regression. That’s probably obvious with his 3.21 FIP and 3.65 xFIP, but for now it’s all working and his HardHit% is still in the 97th percentile as his fastball, cutter and slider are all below 90 mph.

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As for Syndergaard and his first year with the Angels after signing a 1-year, $21 million deal in November, it’s been a bit of mixed results as he’s back on the mound consistently for the first time since 2019. With a 3.69 ERA/3.81 FIP/4.35 xFIP, Syndergaard’s K% is well below where he was with the Mets. Sitting at 15.4% through 46 1/3 IP, Syndergaard’s fastball, slider and sinker have seen a dip in Whiff% compared to the 2019 season.

Unsurprisingly, his velocity is down across the board on the sinker (94.1 mph in 2022 from 97.5 in 2019), fastball (94.0 mph from 97.8), slider (83.9 mph from 89.1), change (88.4 mph from 91.1) and the curve (76.4 mph from 80.4) . Obviously two years of elbow problems are likely to have some repercussions and in his last start on June 6, Syndergaard’s velo was up on the sinker, slider and fastball from his season averages.

In place of a pretty strong changeup and slider from 2019, Syndergaard’s sinker has been been pretty successful against batters on both sides of the plate. Throwing the pitch 46.0% of the time to right-handed batters, up from 34.4% in 2019, Syndergaard’s produced a .136 BA, .153 SLG and .161 WOBA with the pitch so far. Granted, that comes with a .234 xBA, .375 xSLG and a .309 xWOBA so we will see how that goes.

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A bit more news for Walker Buehler today, as he looks to come back from his flexor strain.

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Michael Grove did not pitch in his brief return to the majors while Reyes Moronta is back after about a month with Triple-A OKC. Moronta threw 8 IP in the majors between April 24 and May 14, allowing 2 runs while striking out 7 and walking 3.

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First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT. on TBS and Sportsnet LA.

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.