On July 30, 2021, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals. Los Angeles sent Washington their two top prospects, catcher Keibert Ruiz and right-hander Josiah Gray, outfielder Donovan Casey and right-hander Gerardo Carrillo. This was a blockbuster trade made with the mind set of the Dodgers trying to repeat as World Series champions.

The end result? A six-game series loss to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Devastating free agent departures followed the playoff loss, as Scherzer (New York Mets), Corey Seager (Texas Rangers) and Corey Knebel (Philadelphia Phillies) all found new homes. Meanwhile, franchise royalty Clayton Kershaw and reliever Joe Kelly remain on the open market during the MLB lockout.

Even with the nightmare offseason the franchise is currently enduring, the Dodgers are still an NL contender, but they’re not as stacked as they’ve been in recent years. They need a handful of players to kick it into another gear. Here are three players the Dodgers need to pick up the pace in 2022.

Tony Gonsolin can make a difference for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching staff

Starting pitching has traditionally been an area of strength for the Dodgers, but several questions exist regarding that aspect of their ballclub. Scherzer is gone, Kershaw may very well be gone and Trevor Bauer could potentially never take the hill again. Will Dustin May make a full return from an elbow injury? Can David Price be a frequent member of the rotation? Will Gonsolin take the next step? Do the Dodgers feel they can right free agent signee Andrew Heaney’s MLB career?

Sticking with the last question, the 27-year-old right-hander has shown plenty of promise. He has pitched efficiently, logged strikeouts at a high rate and been a steady force. The issue is Gonsolin has never been a consistent member of manager Dave Roberts’ rotation and the skipper didn’t feel comfortable giving the former a true start last postseason.

  • Tony Gonsolin stats (2021): 3.23 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 65 strikeouts across 55.2 innings (15 appearances, 13 starts)

Gonsolin will at least have the chance to make the 2022 rotation. To earn that nod, he needs to keep more runners off the basepaths. In keeping more runners off the basepaths, Roberts can leave Gonsolin in the game through the fifth inning (he never made a six-inning start in 2021) and the right-hander can go to work with his slider and split-fingered fastball.