Braves Vs. Dodgers NLCS Game 2 Preview: Tony Gonsolin Starts Due To Clayton Kershaw Back Spasms

The National League Championship Series didn’t get off to the best start for the Los Angeles Dodgers as their bats stayed quiet and the bullpen faltered late in Game 1, resulting in a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Despite the loss, there was reason for optimism going into Game 2 for the Dodgers with the team’s best starter, Clayton Kershaw, taking the mound. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening as he was scratched from his start on Tuesday morning due to back spasms.

It’s unknown how long Kershaw will be out, but the Dodgers are turning to rookie Tony Gonsolin to take his place on the mound in Game 2. Gonsolin was outstanding this season, going 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 0.84 WHIP, 46 strikeouts and seven walks in 46.2 innings across nine games (eight starts).

This is the first time he has ever pitched in the postseason though, and Gonsolin’s last outing in an actual game came 17 days ago. He did participate in a simulated game last weekend.

One thing that Gonsolin has going for him is he has faced this Braves team before — albeit on Aug. 18, 2019. It was just the fourth outing of his big league career, but Gonsolin was still able to get through four innings while allowing one run.

The Dodgers are likely looking to get more length out of him this time around considering Kershaw’s injury and the fact that there are no off days during the NLCS.

The Braves are also sending a rookie right-hander to the mound in Ian Anderson, who has been flawless to start this postseason. Anderson only made six regular-season starts, going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA, 2.54 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 41 strikeouts and 14 walks in 32.1 innings pitched.

He has followed that up with 11.2 shutout innings in two postseason starts against the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins, allowing just five hits with 17 strikeouts and three walks.

Anderson faces the tough task of getting through a long Dodgers lineup that is coming off one of their worst performances of the season in Game 1.

With a righty on the mound, Joc Pederson returns to the lineup as the designated hitter, batting eighth. If Kershaw were to start, Austin Barnes would have been catching with Will Smith as the DH. After Kershaw was scratched, it made sense to get Pederson in there to face a righty.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Max Muncy
C: Will Smith
CF: Cody Bellinger
LF: AJ Pollock
DH: Joc Pederson
2B: Chris Taylor

Braves lineup

RF: Ronald Acuña Jr.
1B: Freddie Freeman
DH: Marcell Ozuna
C: Travis d’Arnaud
2B: Ozzie Albies
SS: Dansby Swanson
3B: Austin Riley
LF: Nick Markakis
CF: Cristian Pache

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