Dodgers @ Cardinals May 19, 2023: Gonsolin vs. Matz

The Dodgers (28-17) lost the opening game of a four game series against the Cardinals (19-26) last night by a score of 16-8. It was … interesting to say the least.

Chad finally got to use his iconic dumpster fire picture for a Game Recap for the first time this year. They got out to an early 2-0 start, before Julio Urias allowed four home runs and six total earned runs in the third inning alone. The bullpen allowed the deficit to inflate to 9-2, but the bats managed to get themselves back in the game via a Freddie Freeman grand slam in the sixth inning. Max Muncy hit a solo shot in the seventh, and the Dodgers were trailing just 9-8 entering the eighth inning. The bullpen proceeded to allow seven earned runs in the bottom of the eighth, making the final score seem as if the game was never close, despite an impressive attempt by the offense.

After reaching 14 games under .500 at 10-24, St. Louis has now won nine of their last eleven games. They’ll still have a ton of catching up to do, but this is a great recovery stretch for them. They haven’t been playing like a last place team recently, so the Dodgers will need to figure it out to recover from a blowout loss and get the team back on track. Tony Gonsolin and his 1.42 ERA will take the mound, up against the veteran lefty Steven Matz.

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5:15 PM St. Louis
RF Betts CF Nootbaar (L)
1B Freeman (L) 1B Goldschmidt
C Smith 2B Gorman (L)
DH Martinez 3B Arenado
3B Taylor DH Contreras
2B Vargas LF Donvan (L)
CF Outman (L) SS DeJong
SS Rojas C Knizner
LF Thompson RF Mercado
P Gonsolin (R) P Matz (L)

The Cardinals have really been hitting the ball like crazy this year, despite Nolan Arenado off to a rather slow start. He’s been hot as of late, but owns just a 106 wRC+ and .263/.311/.451 slash, compared to a 151 wRC+ and .293/.358/.533 slash last season.

Matz is left-handed, so the lineup features minimal left-handed batters tonight. Freeman will play as usual, and James Outman will still start in center field. Chris Taylor will play third base over Max Muncy as Trayce Thompson starts in left field. Overall, the team is rather sad against left-handed pitching, featuring a 98 wRC+ (20th), .722 OPS (20), and the worst batting average in baseball against at .199. Bad.

Thompson is still looking for his first hit since April 17. He’s 0-31 in that stretch with eight walks and 18 strikeouts (-17 wRC+). I don’t know how much longer they can keep running him out there. It doesn’t make sense for the organization to bring up someone from the minors to play sporadically, but Thompson has four hits outside of his first game of the season. He’s hitting .071 with a 42.9% strikeout rate over 74 plate appearances outside of the season opener. Austin Barnes (-5 wRC+) is the backup catcher and Miguel Rojas (34 wRC+) is a great defensive shortstop and has been “better” over the last month with a 60 wRC+ and .292 OBP.


Obviously Gonsolin doesn’t have enough innings to qualify, but here’s how he compares to Matz, and how Matz ranks out of 98 qualified starters to throw at least 40 innings.

Matz has been good quite a few times in his career, but has simply had a poor start to his 2023 season. In his last outing he allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts over 5.1 innings against Boston. Though Matz was tagged for eight hits, he managed to keep the ball in the park allowing no home runs for just the second time this season. His prior outing he allowed just one run on five hits and no walks with two strikeouts. That was his first outing during which he did not walk a batter and gave up fewer than two runs. 

He primarily relies on three pitches, throwing his mid 90’s sinker over half the time (57.2%), offering up a mid 80’s changeup 23.1% of the time, and a high 70’s curve 17% of the time. He predominantly uses the changeup against right-handed batters, using it 27.5% of the time against them, compared to just 8.8% of the time against lefties. LHB face the sinker curve, while RHB will see all three.

Gonsolin (1-1) allowed two hits and a walk over five shutout innings Sunday, striking out six and earning a win over San Diego. The Padres had nothing for Gonsolin all afternoon. He allowed two leadoff doubles but quickly worked out of the jams and retired the last eight batters he faced. He threw a season-high 85 pitches and dropped his ERA to 1.42 across 19 innings. He allowed three earned runs against the Phillies in his second start of the season, but his other three starts have been scoreless outings totaling 14.1 innings. His last two have been scoreless, with twelve strikeouts over eleven innings with just one walk.

His average fastball velocity was a season high 93.6 MPH last time out after averaging 93.1 MPH in 2022. He eclipsed an average of 93.6 MPH in just five outings last year. It’s early in his season, but his pitch usage is a little different than it has been in years past. His splitter and slider were two of the most valuable pitches in baseball last year, while his fastball most more or less average. His four-seam fastball is now being thrown just 32.3% of the time, a career low and down from 39.1% last year. His usage of his splitter slider and curve are all up marginally, covering that 7% gap. It’s not a huge difference, but relying on the fastball so little is interesting and it’ll be fun to follow.


More or less, his location was terrible regardless.


First pitch is at 5:15 PM PT on SNLA or MLB Network.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!