The Dodgers were going to start Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson in Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS no matter what, so it was just a matter of choosing which pitcher got which game. The Dodgers opted for Gonsolin Friday, with a fully-rested bullpen after the off day behind him.
Maybe if the Dodgers had any semblance of an offensive showing in Game 3, the gambit might have worked, since they only lost by a run. But it was mostly about picking which game the bullpen would be used more often, and the immediate cost is the Dodgers’ backs are against the wall, needing to win two games in two days.
Gonsolin on Friday showed the rust one might expect from someone pitching in their second major league game in seven weeks, adding to a postseason résumé that is full of disappointment.
In the first inning, Juan Soto doubled and Manny Machado walked against Gonsolin, who needed 31 pitched to complete the frame, 14 of which were out of the strike zone. Jake Cronenworth’s two-out single brought home the first run of the game.
Gonsolin’s leash was inches-length in the second inning, and two one-out singles ended his night, the last a 104-mph rocket by Austin Nola that ricocheted off the left field wall.
Nine batters were faced by Gonsolin, who allowed four hits and a walk. That he only allowed one run was a miracle, aided by Andrew Heaney escaping with a sacrifice bunt and pop out to escape the second.
Gonsolin has allowed 15 runs in 14⅔ innings in eight career postseason appearances, only one of which can be described as good (he got the last out of the eighth inning in Game 3 of last year’s NLCS, with the Dodgers down three runs).
Circumstances dealt Gonsolin a bad hand in each of these last three postseasons — going 16 days before his first playoff game in 2020, limited by two long IL stints in 2021 with shoulder inflammation, and the forearm strain that wiped him out for six weeks this year — but baseball can be unforgiving.
Gonsolin had a great season this year, with a 2.14 ERA in his 24 starts. But who he is right now is very much not that, but it’s what the Dodgers have, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
But for the Dodgers to be in a position to turn to Gonsolin again in 2022, they have quite a bit of work to do.