Just hours before he was scheduled to take on Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that the left-handed batsman would not make his debut due to back spams and that Tony Gonsolin would replace him.
What does injury mean for Kersh, the Dodgers and the rest of the 2020 MLB playoffs? When can we see LA Ace on the mound again? And who is Gonsoline, and what should fans expect from the Game 2 replacement of Kersh? We asked ESPN MLB experts Alden Gonzalez, Bradford Dullett and David Shonefield to weigh in.
What does this mean for the Dodgers in Game 2?
Alden Gonzalez: This means that Gonsoline will start, and is a very good option for a team that has leftovers. Gonsolin was one of the best rogues in a crowded field for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, with a 2.31 ERA with 46 strikes and only seven walks in 46⅔ innings. Gonsoline completed at least six innings in four of his eight and the Dodgers would need something similar in Game 2, the second of seven games in seven days. They need to keep their high-leverage remains as fresh as possible, especially if Kenley Jenson no longer lives in that group.
David Sconfield: I wouldn’t expect him to try to go particularly deep tonight when he doesn’t pitch in the game from September 26, especially with the Dodgers carrying 15 pitchers. Despite performing in the ninth inning on Monday, the Dodgers do Keep a nice and deep bullpen. Brusader Greaterroll and Victor Gonzalez got out of two big jams in Game 1 and will likely play a bigger role in Game 2. Then Dave Roberts only needs to find out who pitches in the ninth inning.
Bradford Dulight: You’ll have to worry about the domino effect with the LA bullpen after the game’s woes. Can Roberts afford to continue mixing Julio Uris and Dustin May as super-relievers? If he does not, does that mean he will have to dip into a layer of his bullpen that he would prefer to avoid in medium to high-leveraged spots? The Dodgers covered themselves for this to some extent by carrying 15 pitchers on their NLCS roster, although the decision to do so was more probable than Kershaw’s back than a washer bowler’s blister. Still, so many pitches don’t help the postseason if you’re not comfortable deploying them in a tight, tense game, which is about all the time of the year.
What does this postman mean for the rest of the Dodgers?
Gonzalez: Assuming that Kershaw is not ready within a few days – and keep in mind that when he came back before the start of his Opening Day earlier this year, here’s a prediction that Urias will go to Game 3 and the Dodgers will be in a bull stage. Will play in 4 days. It then becomes difficult, especially to be used against eight batsmen in a game in May. If May is not needed in any of the next three days, he can provide the assignment of a starter – or close to it – in the game. 5. If he needs it earlier, it becomes difficult. Buehler on short rest, even though he is constantly dealing with blisters? Alex Wood, who wasn’t necessarily trusted for a while and can’t have his length? this is complex.
Doolittle: In addition to the points above, the double-whammy aspect of this time is that it removes the possibility of Kershaw leaving in a possible Game 7 at normal rest. If the cramps were able to clear up quickly and Kershaw was able to start in Game 3, it is theoretically possible that he could move to Game 7 on less rest. Which is nothing short of ideal for him at this point in his career. The last time we tried to watch the Dodgers with Kersh was when he went to Game 1 of the 2018 World Series against the Red Sox, three days after throwing two innings of relief at the NLCS clinic in Milwaukee. Boston attacked him.
Schoenfield: Yes, unknown here is what the Dodgers planned with entering the series in May. Remember, Roberts used him as an opener in the Padres series, throwing him in just one inning, with Uris coming on as Bulk. But it was a small series. Could the pen have a permanent part in this series? Was he going to pitch in Game 1 and then be a Game 5 starter? Unknown about Kershaw’s health, May plans to and may force him back into the rotation. And Wood seems like the last player you’d trust right now – in his last five games in the regular season, he gave up eight runs and 12 hits in 6 12 innings.