Gonsolin has struggled so far this postseason, allowing eight runs in 7⅔ innings. If the unsightly 9.39 ERA wasn’t bad enough, he’s walked seven of 36 batters faced in October, after just seven walks to 176 batters faced during the regular season.
But those outings for Gonsolin were sporadic. He was slated to start Game 4 of the NLDS, but the Dodgers swept San Diego in three games. So his first postseason appearance, in Game 2 of the NLCS, came 17 days after his last game. The timing of that start was also a bit rushed, with Gonsolin originally slated to start Game 4 but was pushed up once Clayton Kershaw was scratched with back spasms.
Gonsolin was to be the bulk reliever in Game 7 of the NLCS, but wasn’t effective enough to last long, and was pulled after 11 batters. It was a winner-take-all game, after all. The rightful sense of urgency to get past the Braves saw the Dodgers use three different starting pitchers in shorter outings in Game 7.
That created a quandary for Game 2 of the World Series, because the Dodgers had no fully rested pitchers. Gonsolin and Dustin May each pitched, but neither were going to pitch very long on just two days rest in what was essentially a bullpen game. Gonsolin started, allowed a home run and a walk, and was pulled after only six batters.
It was a frustrating night to be sure, but Gonsolin will be on five days rest on Tuesday, the most normal routine he’s had in over a month.
Dave Roberts said Gonsolin in Game 6 would be a starter and not an opener.
“He’s a starting pitcher,” Roberts said. “If he could go five or six innings, that would be great.”
Tony Gonsolin’s 2020 season
Gonsolin was one of the Dodgers’ best pitchers all season. He posted a team-best 2.29 FIP, a 2.31 ERA that ranked second only to Kershaw, and 46-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His Deserved Run Average (DRA, at Baseball Prospectus) of 3.55 was 24th among all major league pitchers with at least 30 innings, sandwiched in between Gerrit Cole and Sonny Gray. Kershaw was at 3.40.
Monday’s off day gives the Dodgers a full complement of relievers at their disposal to back Gonsolin, who on full rest should be at his most effective all postseason. That’s putting Gonsolin in an actual position to succeed. Now it’s up to him to actually do it.
Roberts said Walker Buehler was not under consideration to start on three days rest in Game 6, which makes sense considering he’s never done it before and Buehler has been dealing with two blisters on his right hand. Same goes for Game 2, which could have streamlined the rotation a bit, but at a risk to Buehler.
Just let Buehler pitch on full rest if he needs to start Game 7 on Wednesday. Or, you know, don’t use him at all.
“I don’t think anyone’s thinking about Game 7,” Roberts said Sunday night. “We’re going to enjoy tomorrow as an off day, to get guys rested, and focus on Game 6. Gonsolin’s going to start, and we expect to win. That’s all we’re thinking about.”