LOS ANGELES — The baseball calendar getting turned upside down by the 99-day lockout puts an odd lens with which to view the Dodgers’ 10-4 loss to the Angels at Dodger Stadium. But one thing is crystal clear: the first few weeks of the season will require innings from several pitchers.
Monday’s plan involved Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin piggybacking, both members in the Dodgers starting to open the season in their final spring tuneup. On one hand, neither pitcher had an outing worth writing home about, not exactly inspiring considering their next game will be one that counts.
On the other hand, Tuesday night was just the third spring outing for both pitchers, which is well within the building-up phase in a usual season. Nothing about the start to this season is the usual, just like nothing about the previous two seasons was normal. Monday served as a reminder for the latter, with clubhouses at Dodger Stadium open to reporters for the first time since the 2019 National League Division Series.
"Felt healthy. Obviously the results didn't show but I felt good." Julio Urias on how he felt following his final outing before the season starts. pic.twitter.com/9Nd6RZqkSj— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 5, 2022
Urías got through two frames unscathed, but the wheels came off in the third. He faced six batters in the inning but retired none of them, allowing five hits, including a home run and a double, plus one walk, ending his night after 61 pitches, five runs in, and six outs recorded.
Of concern was Urías averaging just 91.6 mph on his four-seam fastball, which he threw for a little under half of his 61 pitches. That’s down from an average fastball velocity of 94.1, 94.2, and 95.1 mph in the last three seasons.
Gonsolin followed with four innings and 56 pitches of his own. He allowed three runs, including a two-run homer by Jose Rojas in the sixth inning. Gonsolin’s average fastball on Monday was 91.7 mph, which was at least a reminder of his decline from 95.1 mph in 2020 to 93.8 mph during a 2021 season that was interrupted twice by shoulder fatigue.
“It’s a little bit of where we’re at in spring,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s going to be more adrenalin, I would expect, once the regular season comes. I think they both touched 92. I think you’ll see more 92, 93, 94 when we get to the season.”
The first few weeks of the season would normally be the last few weeks of spring. With many pitchers still getting built up, there could be more variance in quality and quantity of innings in the early going. It makes more sense why the Dodgers plan to carry 16 pitchers, at least for the opening weekend at Coors Field.
One of those 16 pitchers figures to be Mitch White, who last year was a swingman and the Dodgers’ poster boy for the new collective bargaining agreement’s limit of five times a player can be optioned to the minors within one season. White was optioned 11 times last year.
White figures to make the roster at least as a security blanket should things go south for any of the weekend starters, the names of which we don’t yet know beyond Walker Buehler on Friday.
The Dodgers have one more exhibition game on Tuesday against the Angels, and White is not scheduled to pitch. His last two outings were on the backfields.
“Mitch is ready to go. He’s in a good place,” Roberts said. “He’s done a lot of good things for us, and his role is sort of long relief. He’s embraced that role.”
I asked if the opening series being in the offensive haven of Coors Field makes it more likely White makes the roster.
“Very much so,” Roberts said.
Home runs: Brandon Marsh, Jose Rojas
WP — José Suarez: 3⅔ IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
LP — Julio Urías: 2+ IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 1 run
Only one more spring training game left. The Freeway Series finale is Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium (6:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, Bally Sports West). Top pitching prospect Bobby Miller starts for the Dodgers, with Michael Lorenzen on the mound for the Angels.