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Tony Gonsolin should start Game 3 for the Dodgers

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Gonsolin goes 6 innings Saturday to cap stellar regular season

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers still haven’t revealed who will start, or perhaps pitch the lion’s share of innings in Game 3 of the wild card round. Tony Gonsolin allowed his most runs in a game this season on Saturday, giving up four to the Angels in a 7-6 win, but he still has the best case to be third in line behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.

Gonsolin allowed four runs in the third inning against the husk of an Angels lineup that didn’t include Mike Trout or Anthony Rendon in the first day after the Halos were eliminated. But that was all he allowed in his six innings.

On the season, Gonsolin has a 2.31 ERA and 46 strikeouts against only seven walks in 46⅔ innings. He leads all Dodgers starters in FIP (2.28), is second in ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.57), and third in strikeout rate (26.1 percent), while allowing the fewest home runs (two) in the rotation.

Both Gonsolin and manager Dave Roberts cited Gonsolin’s work in between starts as keys to his success this year.

“He’s considerably more focused, just really understanding major league hitters and how to use his mix and how to get guys out,” Roberts said before Saturday’s game. “I think the easy thing is to say that he’s really gaining confidence in his slider to go along with the change up. But there’s a next layer that I think is just as beneficial as all that stuff on the surface.”

Gonsolin has thrown his slider just 16.7 percent of the time this season, but it’s become a put-away pitch for him, with 17 strikeouts on the slider, more than any other pitch, including two on Saturday.

Last year, Gonsolin didn’t make the Dodgers NLDS roster, though he traveled with the team, staying ready in case he was added in later rounds. Those never came, as the Dodgers lost the division series in five games.

This year, Gonsolin’s postseason roster status is secure. “We just have to figure out in what capacity,” Roberts said.

“It’d be an honor just to make the postseason roster, for the front office and staff to have the confidence in me to go out there and throw strikes and get outs is very important to me,” Gonsolin said on Friday. “At the end of the day, we just want to win out games in October, and take home the ring.”

The big inning

While Gonsolin threw 21 pitches in the Angels’ four-run third inning, that was nothing compared to Julio Teheran, who punctuated a truly miserable season with a one-inning start on Saturday.

Teheran battled and battled all inning, running the count full four times. He walked two, allowed two hits, and had a could-be double play ball misplayed into a fielder’s choice. The end result was three runs allowed and a whopping 52 pitches to end his night. Teheran ended his 2020 campaign with a 10.05 ERA in 31⅓ innings.

Notes

Teheran also hit a batter, plunking Mookie Betts in the left hip area to open the game. Betts was on deck when the first inning ended, but left the game after just one inning as a precaution. Roberts said after the game that Betts is day-to-day, and might get Sunday off, depending how he feels in the morning.

Joc Pederson turned the game around in the sixth inning, hitting a line-drive, two-run home run down the left field line, regaining the lead for the Dodgers. It was his first home run since September 4, a gap that included time missed on the paternity list and family medical emergency leave list. Pederson drove in three on the night, and is 3-for-10 since his latest return.

Justin Turner’s single in the first inning extended his on-base streak to 30 games. It’s the longest active streak in the majors, and the longest on-base streak by a Dodger since Max Muncy reached in 34 straight games in 2019.

Edwin Ríos, who took over for Turner at third base in the seventh inning, added a solo shot (with a little help from Jo Adell), his eighth home run of the season. Fourteen of Ríos’ 19 hits this season (73.7 percent) are for extra bases. There are only six other seasons in MLB history with at least 10 extra-base hits and extra-base hits accounting for at least 73 percent of hits. Two are this season, including Hunter Renfroe (13 XBH, 17 H) and Jason Castro (11 XBH, 15 H).

There was a power outage at Dodger Stadium in between the sixth and seventh innings that resulted in a delay of a little over 20 minutes. “It was honestly spooky,” Gonsolin said. “It was dark, like real dark, real fast.”

“I panicked for like two seconds,” Ríos said. “It was weird.”

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Joc Pederson (7), Edwin Ríos (8), Will Smith (8)

WP — Tony Gonsolin (2-2): 6 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 6 strikeouts

LP — Hansel Robles (0-2): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Sv — Adam Kolarek (1): ⅔ IP, 1 hit

Up next

The regular season ends on Sunday, with Dustin May pitching the bulk of the innings in the series finale (12:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), though in relief.