Tony Gonsolin’s bid for the All-Star start gets boost in Dodgers’ win over Cubs

Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin delivers a pitch during the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs.
ony Gonsolin pitches for the Dodgers during the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The fluffy tunes have become some of the most ferocious sounds at Dodger Stadium this year.

In any other context, the “Smelly Cat” song from the 1990s TV show “Friends” or Tom Jones’ single “What’s New Pussycat?” or “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, would hardly strike fear in an opponent.

But every time they’re played by Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle these days, it’s an indication the Dodgers’ “Catman” is again purring on the mound.


That was the case in the Dodgers 5-3 win against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, when Tony Gonsolin — the self-proclaimed feline fanatic who has flourished on the field during a career-best start to this season — gave up just two runs in seven innings to help the team to its fourth straight win.

Like usual, the right-hander was efficient, needing just 93 pitches to complete seven innings for a second consecutive outing.

Dodgers prospects Miguel Vargas, Bobby Miller and Diego Cartaya were selected for the Futures Game that will take place during MLB All-Star week at Dodger Stadium.

July 8, 2022

He attacked the strike zone, issuing no walks for the third time this season while collecting three strikeouts.

He maintained his spot atop the majors’ ERA leaderboard, finishing the night at 1.62, and improved his record to 11-0, joining Justin Verlander as the only pitchers in the majors with 11 wins this season.

“Just feels good to go out there and give our team a chance to win the ballgame,” Gonsolin said. “Kept us in the game today. Watched our offense work.”


Indeed, by the time Gonsolin gave up a Christopher Morel two-run home run in the fifth inning, the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead on long balls from Mookie Betts (his first of two on the night, giving him 20 on the season), Gavin Lux (a two-run blast in the second) and Justin Turner (a solo homer in the fourth).

Other than that, Gonsolin’s night was filled with nothing but soft contact from the Cubs lineup, simple plays for the Dodgers defense and cat-inspired musical choices — with “meow” sound effects interspersed throughout.

“He worked behind more than he typically has,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But when he’s going that well, he can still navigate and put out a quality start.”

There was late drama after Gonsolin left the mound.

In the eighth inning, Brusdar Graterol left the game after four pitches with what Roberts said was a cramp in his side. Graterol will go through further testing Friday before the team decides if he’ll need an injured list stint.

In the ninth, closer Craig Kimbrel couldn’t finish the game, recording two outs before getting into trouble — he gave up a single, RBI double and nine-pitch walk to put the tying runs on base — and being pulled with a pitch count of 31 on his second consecutive night of work.

Dodgers' Gavin Lux watches his two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs.
The Dodgers’ Gavin Lux watches his two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Alex Vesia got the final out, striking out pinch-hitter Nelson Velazquez to end the game.

“Obviously to finish a game is something he takes a lot of pride in,” Roberts said of Kimbrel. “But I just felt there was only diminishing returns at that point.”

When Gonsolin takes the mound again next week in St. Louis, his first All-Star selection should be guaranteed.

The league will announce full rosters for the midsummer classic on Sunday. He’s a virtual lock for the team.

The only real question is whether the 28-year-old will be picked to start the game at his home ballpark on July 19, a decision that will be up to Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, who will manage the National League All-Star team.

“I think he’s earned it,” Roberts said when asked Thursday if Gonsolin should be the NL’s starting pitcher. “But ultimately, Brian Snitker is gonna have to make that tough decision.”

A tough decision, indeed.

Mike Brito, a longtime scout for the Dodgers who helped sign more than 30 players who appeared in the majors, died at 87, the team announced Thursday.

July 7, 2022

While Gonsolin is also the league leader in WHIP (0.80) and batting average against (.157), Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara has a strong case, with a 1.82 ERA over an MLB-most 1231/3 innings pitched.

So does Atlanta Braves left-hander Max Fried, who trails only Alcantara in FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement.

Then there is teammate Clayton Kershaw, who has a 2.57 ERA and presents perhaps the most sentimental choice to start in what could be his final season as a Dodger, even if he missed a month with a back injury.

Gonsolin hasn’t engaged much in the speculation, brushing aside more questions about the All-Star Game on Thursday night.

“I’m just trying to go out there and help our team win,” he said.

Once again, that’s what he did, his latest gem accompanied by more cat-themed music that played throughout the night.