The Los Angeles Dodgers will go from a proven veteran to a rookie in an attempt to take a two-game lead in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Arlington, Texas.
One day after Clayton Kershaw pitched the Dodgers to an 8-3 victory in Game 1 against the Rays, the Dodgers will turn to right-hander Tony Gonsolin in Game 2 on Wednesday.
The outing will come after Gonsolin threw 41 pitches Sunday in a Game 7 victory of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.
"We just feel like we like him in this spot," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the World Series opener.
Roberts referenced Gonsolin's recent bullpen experience, seemingly suggesting the 26-year old could be more of an opener Wednesday, pitching the first inning and perhaps a bit more if he is efficient. The Dodgers would turn it over to the bullpen from there, with fellow rookie starter Dustin May potentially absorbing multiple innings in the game.
Gonsolin has made two shaky outings in the postseason so far, giving up seven runs in 6 1/3 innings for a 9.95 playoff ERA. He has struck out eight and walked six. In the regular season, Gonsolin went 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA in nine games (eight starts).
May threw 18 pitches while lasting just the first inning Sunday, allowing a run on two hits and a walk with one strikeout.
If the Dodgers get the same kind of offense that they produced Tuesday, Roberts' decision on a starter will hardly remain a topic of conversation. But runs figure to be hard to come back against Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell.
The 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner was 4-2 in the 2020 regular season with a 3.24 ERA over 11 starts. In four starts during this postseason, Snell is 2-2 with a 3.20 ERA. He enters off an outing in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in which he gave up two runs on three hits with four walks in four-plus innings against the Houston Astros. The Rays lost the game 7-4 but rebounded to win Game 7.
Snell faced the Dodgers for the only time in his career last season, and he struck out four over two perfect innings in his first outing back after arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow.
The Rays will try to follow their pattern from the AL Division Series when they lost the opener to the New York Yankees before rebounding to advance.
"It's not discouraging (but) disappointing, yeah," Rays manager Kevin Cash said about the Game 1 defeat to the Dodgers. "We'll bounce right back like we have done multiple times this year and we'll look to find a way to win a game (Wednesday). We have Blake on the mound, which is very encouraging. We'll be good."
What the Rays need is an offensive outburst. They have scored just 3.5 runs per game since the start of the ALCS, and they need to find a spark. Randy Arozarena has seven home runs in this postseason, but went 0-for-3 with a walk in Game 1 of the World Series. Manuel Margot, who has five home runs in the postseason, went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, got home runs from Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts. And to show they aren't just a power team, they stole three bases in the fifth inning of Game 1 to tie a World Series record for a single inning.
"You look at sheer talent, (Bellinger and Betts) are a couple of the best players in all of baseball," Roberts said. "Mookie is going to get the best of everybody, but now you layer in Cody and the experience he has in the postseason and learning from that, and you can (include Corey Seager) in that same conversation."
--Field Level Media