LOS ANGELES — Tony Gonsolin will start for the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS on Friday in San Diego, making just his second major league start in seven weeks. Manager Dave Roberts made the announcement after Game 2 on Wednesday.
It’s a bit of a surprise move, in as much as one can be with a pitcher who posted a 2.14 ERA in 130⅓ innings, if only because of the long layoff with a right forearm strain. Gonsolin pitched two innings in a rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City on September 27, then two more innings on October 3 for the Dodgers. Both outings were followed by Gonsolin pitching a simulated inning in the bullpen, usually seen in spring training when pitchers are trying to build up arm strength.
“We extended him in the live sim games that we had this past week,” Roberts said. “We feel good about the length and how he’s throwing the baseball.”
Even with those simulated games, it’s unlikely Gonsolin will be able to go much more than four innings, maybe five if all goes well. But with Thursday’s off day the bullpen will essentially reset, and the Dodgers have Andrew Heaney and Dustin May available for bulk relief if needed.
The simplest move would have been to start Tyler Anderson, who is fully built up and led the Dodgers in innings pitched this year.
Anderson even met with reporters before Game 2, usually a spot reserved for the next game’s starting pitcher. But both he and Roberts before the game said the decision was up in the air. For his part, Anderson said he was willing to take the ball any time he is asked.
“I’ll tell you what I told them. It’s that whenever you want me to pitch, I’m available,” Anderson said. “If you want me to pitch tonight, I’m available. If you want me to pitch Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and you want me to pitch tomorrow in live BP so guys can face left-handed pitching, I’ll pitch then too.”
Anderson will start Game 4.
Padres manager Bob Melvin kept his starting rotation in order, sticking with Blake Snell to start Friday night in Game 3 on five days rest, rather than bumping up Joe Musgrove a day to pitch on four days rest.
Roberts said that against the left-hander, Cody Bellinger will sit on Friday, with Trayce Thompson starting in center. Chris Taylor, who was not used in the first two games of the NLDS, will start in left field, in his first game action since September 30.
Game 2 starts at 5:37 p.m. on Friday.