Tony Gonsolin continues his strong start to the season and leads the Dodgers past the Diamondbacks |

PHOENIX – He showed flashes as a rookie but then regressed last year.

While the Los Angeles Dodgers hoped he would bounce back, few expected such consistent production.

Of the Dodgers’ current starting rotation — which includes a former All-Star and 20-game winner — it was Tony Gonsolin who threw arguably the best in the first quarter of the season, leading the group in ERA, rate out and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).

In the team’s 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, the right-hander once again showed every reason.

He attacked with a fastball that this season has found life again, after Gonsolin suffered a shoulder injury last year.

He shuffled his ever-improving curveball, a new trademark of his start to the season.

He finished at bat with his slider and splitter, racking up seven strikeouts for the third straight game.

Above all, he pitched with speed and efficiency, walking zero for the first time this season while completing his fourth six-inning outing and third straight start.

“It’s just about attacking and attacking guys,” Gonsolin said. “Having more confidence that my business will work out.”

The Dodgers (32-14) didn’t see much of this version of Gonsolin last year.

After the former ninth-round pick posted a 2.60 ERA and average just under five innings per start in his first two seasons, he struggled with consistency while nursing health issues. shoulder and an unreliable command.

The sharpness of his trick varied with each start. His pitch count would swell with walks and long bats. And while he hit a 3.23 ERA, he rarely worked deep in games, going five innings in just four of 13 starts.

Lately, however, everything has been different.

It generates fewer puffs but allows a much less harsh contact. He has regularly cut his walks, posting two or less in five of his last six appearances. And it’s all a result of a more aggressive mindset, with Gonsolin unafraid to fill in a strike zone he’s only nibbled on once.

“I think a lot of young pitchers are starting to be too good,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But to be a front row starter, you always have to be able to give your team length. He was able to do it for us.

Saturday was the latest example.

After allowing two runs in the second inning on a pair of RBI triples, Gonsolin settled into a groove. He pitched a 1-2-3 third inning. He failed a double at fourth that deflected first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Then, even with his shot count at 79 after the fifth, he returned to the mound in the sixth to pull the Diamondbacks’ heart out (23-25) in order.

Combined with Mookie Betts’ 14th homer of the season to start the game, a two-run rally top of the fifth, four hits from Justin Turner and a three-inning scoreless effort from the bullpen — Daniel Hudson has got the stoppage because closer Craig Kimbrel wasn’t feeling well — that was enough to help the Dodgers earn a third straight win.

“I thought today was just a good overall performance,” Roberts said of Gonsolin. “It’s a bit commonplace now.”

Diving deeper into matches has been Gonsolin’s focus since the start of the spring.

He worked on improving a once little-used curveball, throwing it both across the box to get called strikes and into the dirt for put-away puffs.

His slider and splitter were also dominant, producing a combined batting average of .099 on Saturday.

He also commanded his fastball better.

“He really understands what his arsenal is and what makes him unique,” pitching coach Mark Prior said. “Where you can throw guys, how to get into countdowns, and then where to go to get out of certain situations. And I think that’s been a big plus for him this year.

There has also been a change in mentality. Gonsolin has spoken with coaches and teammates, including Clayton Kershaw, about how to better manage his starts. He’s become more willing to attack hitters above home plate, throwing 50.9% of his shots in the zone this year compared to 43.8% last year.

“I throw strikes when I need to,” Gonsolin said. “Quality strikes, that is.”

And over the past month, he’s put all the pieces together cohesively — his surprise start to the season making him an unexpected rock in the Dodgers’ rotation.

“(I) just trust that I’ve earned this spot,” he said, “and I’m trying to keep it.”

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