Sports · June 23, 2022

How the Dodgers Found Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson

CINCINNATI – No team loses more impactful starting pitchers than the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet no team consistently throws so well. It’s part of life in blue.

“I was at the Sandy Koufax statue ceremony last week and he talked about how, when you wear this uniform, there’s a lot of throwing legacy with the Dodgers,” manager Dave Roberts said here on Tuesday, before a game with. the Cincinnati Reds. “And I think when you have Clayton Kershaw here, the bar is very high. So the expectation when you take the mound is higher for us.”

Kershaw, who missed a few weeks with a lower back injury, is back to resume his march to the Hall of Fame. The arms around him keep changing, but the results remain the same. The Dodgers holders led the majors in the average earned through Wednesday, at 2.62, despite missing a rotation of five decorated since 2021.

At various times last season, the Dodgers employed Max Scherzer, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, David Price and Dustin May. Those pitchers made 77 appearances for a team that drew a franchise record with 106 wins. All have disappeared from the rotation.

Scherzer has signed with the Mets. Bauer was suspended for two years in April for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy. Buehler underwent elbow surgery this month for a flexor tendon strain and his return is uncertain. The price is an average relief. May is recovering from surgery on Tommy John.

For the Dodgers, though, it’s just an opportunity for others to shine. Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson teamed up 17-0, helping to keep the team at the top of the National League West in a virtual draw with San Diego. Both starters could be All-Star for the first time next month.

“I feel like they never canceled anything here,” said Anderson, a southpaw who signed with the Dodgers after six years with four teams – and averaged 4.62 points earned. “Some teams, if you try things, they don’t like trying new things. While they’re not afraid to try new things here, they also know how to eliminate the things that don’t work. “

Anderson, who signed a one-year contract for $ 8 million, tweaked his best tone, the gearbox. Now he’s the slowest of his kind among NL-qualified pitchers, at 79.2mph, according to fangraphs, helping his normal fastball play.

Gonsolin has made a concerted effort to throw more strikes this season, using his splitter more than any other NL holder. Teams have largely discouraged pitchers from using that pitch, for fear of injury, since its heyday in the 1980s. But Roberts believes the splitter should be back – and Gonsolin could give him a showcase if he starts the All-Star Game at home next month.

“That would be really awesome,” said Gonsolin, a Dodgers draft pick for round nine in 2016. “To be at Dodger Stadium would be huge. It would be just great to be part of that environment, to have that opportunity if that happens.” .

Andrew Heaney, who returned from a shoulder injury last weekend and nearly canceled his exchange, has an ERA of 0.59 with 23 strikeouts and four walks in three starts. Heaney signed for a year and $ 8.5 million after wrestling for the Angels and Yankees last season.

“Throw your best shots more frequently,” Heaney said. “This makes a lot of sense to me.”

Heaney, like Anderson, had a track record of mediocrity for multiple teams; in eight seasons, his ERA was 4.72. Yency Almonte, a setup man with his fourth organization, was successful by emphasizing the sinkers on the four seams. Another rescuer, Evan Phillips, has had an ERA of 7.26 for three teams and a score of 2.43 since the Dodgers pulled him from waivers last August.

“We still have to compete; it’s not like we come to the Dodgers and they sprinkle us with fairy dust and suddenly, we are who we are, “said Phillips.” We are all talented and I think they challenge us to bring out the best in ourselves. room like this, when surrounded by Hall of Famers and All-Stars left and right, it lifts everyone. “

Kershaw, 34, finished last season on the injury list but returned for a year and $ 17 million. He has been with the Dodgers for 15 seasons, long enough to witness their latest losing record (80-82 in 2010) and their return to the kind of throwing dominance he called Koufax’s all-time high in the 1960s. .

“The Dodgers do a good job of finding out what you do well and using it, a lot,” said Kershaw. “There are some organizations that do pitching really well. We are one of them. Cleveland is one of them. Tampa Bay is one of them. I think everyone does it a little differently, but it seems like the Dodgers find the strength of someone who might not be seen on paper, but if you dig a little, you see this guy has skills. “

This is the sixth consecutive season that the Dodgers have had the lowest ERA in the NL, from 2.90 on Wednesday. Heaney said the cohesion between departments in the team’s vast coaching and front-office structure made it easy to implement changes.

“There’s an openness to being able to say ‘Let’s try something different’ and the kids aren’t anxious about that,” said Heaney. “There’s a confidence, like, ‘OK, they’re not going to bring it to me if they don’t believe in what it could unlock.'”

General manager Brandon Gomes pitched for Tampa Bay under Andrew Friedman, who left to head the Dodgers baseball operations department in 2014. The raw data hasn’t changed much since he played, Gomes said, but the teams have found more ways to apply them.

The old idea that players will usually follow their established patterns – which they will play on the back of their baseball cards, as they say – no longer applies.

“There are several paths to player development, and not just in the minor leagues,” said Gomes. “There is also the development of Major League players going on.”

The Dodgers could add more depth in the second half, with May, Danny Duffy, Tommy Kahnle and Blake Treinen all likely to return from various injuries. The Dodgers are spending a total of $ 6.725 million this season on Duffy and Kahnle, and if neither of them come back, they can afford the bet. Their bets on Heaney – and, above all, Anderson – are already paying off.

Such a wallet distinguishes the Dodgers. The team has a payroll of around $ 260 million, according to Spotrac, just below the Mets for the richest of the majors.

“Between how well they find the boys in the rough and their ability to spend money, at the end of the day, if you spend money, you get good players and good players win games,” Kershaw said. “I don’t care how any other team thinks of doing it, that’s how you have a good team, it’s being able to do it. If you’re not planning on spending any money, you might have a good year or two. But you have to have good players and good players cost “.

The large expense of the Dodgers, for players like Kershaw, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner and others, matters more. But their success in developing players in the majors could save them the season.