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Dodgers notes: Tony Gonsolin’s slider, Chris Taylor’s ankle, home field advantage in Texas

Pregame notes before Game 2 of the World Series

2020 World Series Game 1: Los Angeles Dodgers v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Dodgers head into Game 2 of the World Series, and will send Tony Gonsolin to the mound to start against the Rays. How long he lasts remains to be seen after throwing 41 pitches on Sunday.

Basically, it comes down to how well Gonsolin is pitching.

“I think it’s just command, whether it’s fastball command or how he’s commanding his changeup,” manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday. “His slider, making sure it has the teeth it typically has. That tells you how fatigued he is, or if he’s bouncing back.”

Gonsolin threw his slider 16.7% of the time during the regular season, and it was his main put-away pitch. Hitters were 5-for-32 (.156) with 17 strikeouts against the slider this season, and when he used the slider with two strikes he got a strikeout 30.4% of the time.

In his playoff opener, starting Game 2 of the NLCS, Gonsolin threw the slider 29 times, and of the 10 swings induced he got seven misses. That helped him retire his first nine batters faced against the Braves. On Sunday in his two-plus innings of relief in Game 7, Gonsolin threw only six sliders in his 41 pitches, getting no swings and misses.

Back on solid footing

Chris Taylor is in the lineup for the 12th time in 14 postseason games for the Dodgers this year. One of those games off was for rest, and the other because he injured his ankle while making a throw from left field in Game 5 of the NLCS.

When Taylor initially rolled his ankle, he told Roberts and training staff he heard something pop.

“It really scared me. I never sprained my ankle before. I heard the pop, and obviously it didn’t feel good, so initially I immediately felt it the worst,” Taylor said on Wednesday. “Once I put some weight on it, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought originally. I was still worried it was going to blow up. It slowed up a bit, which made the next 24 hours difficult, but I was able to do some things in the training room, and thankfully I had a quick recovery and only missed one game.”

Taylor missed Game 6 against Atlanta, then started the next two games at second base before moving to left field late in the game. In Game 2 on Wednesday night, Taylor starts in left field, where he’s started 16 times this season, including the postseason, and tied for the team lead with two outfield assists.

Since returning to the lineup, Taylor has a pair of two-hit games, including a double in Game 7 against the Braves and an RBI single in the Dodgers’ fateful four-run fifth inning in Game 1 against the Rays. Taylor has a three-game hitting streak and has reached base in his last six games.

Road, sweet home?

Wednesday night will be the Dodgers’ 12th game in a row at Globe Life Field, the cavernous ballpark that at times this year has confounded hitters. But the Dodgers seem to be getting comfortable there, hitting .267/.370/.480 in 11 games in Texas this postseason, averaging 6.27 runs per game.

“It seems like we’re almost going to play as many games here as the Rangers this year,” Roberts joked, though he’s not too far off.

Counting the three-game regular season series in August the Dodgers played, they have played 14 games at Globe Life Field and will play at least three and at most six more. The Dodgers will have played between 17-20 games in Arlington compared to 30 games for the Rangers.

So far, the Dodgers have hit 24 home runs in 14 games at Globe Life Field this season, including 19 in the postseason. The Rangers hit 27 home runs in their 30 home games.

“The clubhouse staff here and the facilities are amazing. Everything about this ballpark has been fantastic,” Roberts said. “Whether it’s the workouts, the games played here in the regular season and postseason, all that stuff helped make this feel like more of a home field. I definitely think that’s an advantage for us.”