The Los Angeles Dodgers went into the postseason with a starting rotation seemingly as talented as any in baseball. Yet, only Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw have been consistently used in the traditional sense.
Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias and Dustin May all have made relief appearances and started this postseason. Only Urias has proven capable of successfully handling the fluid role, though Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remained confident in his rookie right-handers.
After a brief time to reset following another shaky appearance, May shined out of the bullpen in Game 5. Now the Dodgers are affording that same opportunity to Gonsolin, as he will start Game 6 on an extra day of rest — just like each of his outings during the regular season.
Other than Gonsolin the Dodgers didn’t have many options for Game 6. L.A. could have gone the route of another bullpen game or brought Walker Buehler back on short rest rather than save him for a potential Game 7.
The DodgerBlue.com staff shared their opinions on how they would have handled Game 6.
Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015):
For me, there were two clear options for the Dodgers after Game 2. Either start Wood in a bullpen game if the World Series reached a Game 6, or make the decision to prepare Gonsolin for a start and shift May to a relief role.
As we now have come to learn, the opted for the latter. And frankly, it’s the better of the two options between Gonsolin and Wood. I am of the opinion his struggles thus far in October are a byproduct of not having a set role, and he should be improved Tuesday.
I know there were calls for Buehler to start on short rest, but that was only something I would have gone for if the Dodgers were facing elimination.
Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):
For me, this is a no brainer. We’ve talked on “DodgerHeads” about the only way we’d even consider moving Buehler up was if the Dodgers lost Game 4 and Game 5, but once they won Sunday night this was cemented for me.
The Dodgers only need to win one more game — and while the preference is to accomplish that in Game 6, either one does the job. Saving Buehler for Game 7 gives them the greatest aggregate advantage to win the series, and my guess is it’s not even all that close.
Part of that is not only because he’ll be on full rest, but it gives Roberts a bit of freedom to be aggressive with his bullpen in Game 6. If you need Brusdar Graterol for two innings, Roberts can do so knowing that he can expect a lot from his ace the following night.
As for Gonsolin, let’s remember what he did in the regular season: he was fantastic. Yes, he has struggled in the postseason, but I think with the Dodgers treat him like a starter (full rest and the expectation of more than getting a few outs), he finds a groove.
Keep in mind as well that the Rays have only seen him for 1.1 innings all series. Even with Gonsolin on the mound Tuesday, the Dodgers are major favorites (-140) in Game 6. I imagine Game 7’s line would be even higher if it gets there.
Matt Borelli (@mcborelli):
While one can make a case for Buehler to start Game 6, I like the decision to go with Gonsolin instead. The right-hander has struggled this postseason, but I believe he will be more effective pitching on five days’ rest as opposed to his last appearance, which came on two days and as an opener.
Moreover, the Dodgers’ bullpen should be well-rested following Monday’s off day, so Roberts can give Gonsolin a quick hook if necessary. Saving Buehler for a potential winner-take-all Game 7 makes more sense, as he was built for these types of high-pressure outings and would be pitching on normal rest.
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