Tony Gonsolin’s 2023 season never got going, and never looked right. Now, his 2024 might be wiped out, too.
The Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander has been dealing with some degree of discomfort in his right elbow since at least early July, a year after his All-Star breakout was interrupted by a flexor issue. The collection of elbow maladies now needs repair, and the 29-year-old will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday.
Gonsolin first complained of discomfort more than a month ago, though it was deemed by the club’s medical staff to be something the right-hander could pitch through without making it worse. While the organization discussed the possibility of shelving Gonsolin to get healthy and get right, he kept pitching.
Now, it’s fair to wonder if Gonsolin was ever quite right.
“I think that all pitchers have something going on with their arms and elbows, with the mileage,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said when Gonsolin was first placed on the injured list. “But (we) were all aligned as far as it made sense for us to continue to give (Gonsolin) the baseball. And right now we just feel where we’re at, the IL is the best course of action.”
He missed the first month of the season with a sprained ankle suffered during a spring training drill, then returned and put up the worst production of his career. Through 20 starts, he put up a 4.98 ERA, including allowing five home runs in a 10-run outing against the Marlins in what would be his final appearance of the season.
The structure of Gonsolin’s current deal would have given him some added incentive to keep pitching — his 2024 salary, in part, was determined by the number of starts or bulk relief outings he made in 2023. By making 20 starts, he added an additional $2 million in salary for 2024 to raise his total earnings next year to $5.4 million. His last start alone netted him $500,000.
Gonsolin has insisted that his physical issue, which had been left mostly undisclosed and murky in the club’s updates while he kept pitching, didn’t impact his performance. After that final outing, he conceded the elbow may have caused his fastball velocity to drop to a career-low 92.4 mph.
The Dodgers’ rotation that is under contract for Opening Day next season is essentially all rookies (Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, Gavin Stone and Emmet Sheehan) and Ryan Yarbrough, with Walker Buehler in the mix as well as he tries to make a 2023 return from his second Tommy John surgery. Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw are free agents, as is Lance Lynn if the Dodgers don’t pick up his $18 million club option. Dustin May is out until at least the middle of next season after his own elbow surgery (a flexor repair and Tommy John revision). It’s an area of need.
(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)