The Dodgers will start Dustin May in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Braves on Sunday night, the first of potentially several pitchers in the winner-take-all game.
May pitched Thursday, but even though he only threw two innings, though he needed 55 pitches to do it. That was tied for the longest outing this postseason for May, who has been used in short bursts, posting a 1.35 ERA in 6⅔ innings, with nine strikeouts and four walks.
“Allowing Dustin some clarity on when he’s pitching was important,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. “Knowing which hitters you’re going to get for Dustin, the certainty, was kind of a factor.”
Though May is starting, expect Tony Gonsolin to pitch at some point on Sunday, likely in a prominent role.
“We’re talking through it. We’ve got some good names available,” Roberts said Saturday. “There’s a good chance Gonsolin will take down a good bit of it.
Gonsolin was excellent this year for the Dodgers, posting a 2.31 ERA and team-best 2.29 FIP with 46 strikeouts and seven walks in 46⅔ innings. Because of sweeps in the first two rounds, Gonsolin’s start in Game 2 of the NLCS was his first game in 17 days. He retired his first nine batters faced, but allowed five runs in his next 10 batters faced.
“Going back watching the game, you could tell I was getting a little bit tired, not having pitched in a little bit. My sharpness definitely wasn’t there,” Gonsolin said Saturday. “But overall, I thought movement and everything was still working the same way that I wanted to work, but my execution wasn’t as good.”
Because it’s Game 7, it will be all hands on deck, except for Walker Buehler, who “emptied the tank” with his six scoreless innings on Saturday in Game 6. Of the other starters most likely to be used in relief, Julio Urías has the most rest, having pitched Wednesday, but also threw 101 pitches in Game 3, the most by a Dodgers starter all year.
Roberts said even Clayton Kershaw might be available three days after starting Game 4, on what would be a day for his bullpen session anyway.
“I’ll talk to him tomorrow, coming off the spasms and just kind of seeing where he’s at physically, with a couple days rest,” Roberts said. “I’ll talk to him, and we’ll make a decision.”
Among actual relievers, it will be a scramble after the Dodgers bullpen threw 10 innings in the last two games to claw their way back to a tied series.
Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, and Pedro Baez all pitched on both Friday and Saturday. The Dodgers have only used a reliever three days in a row twice, including Treinen in the NLDS. Baez, who pitched four of the last five days, seems the least likely to pitch in Game 7. Jansen only needed 12 pitches Friday and six on Saturday, so he is probably still in play.
Among the relievers the Dodgers have used in high-leverage situations, Jake McGee and Dylan Floro are the most rested, having last pitched in Game 4. Joe Kelly’s one inning in Game 6 was his only appearance in the last four days.
Brusdar Graterol and Victor Gonzalez were both held out of Game 6, and figure to pitch at some point in Game 7.