Gonsolin's short start puts burden on bullpen

Relievers continue to perform, giving Dodgers a chance to win

October 15th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The decision to start right-hander in Game 3 of the National League Division Series ultimately didn't work out as planned for the Dodgers, as he lasted just 1 1/3 innings, creating a heavy workload for the bullpen.

But the Dodgers always knew a short start from Gonsolin was a possibility, as he was stretched out to roughly 75 pitches after dealing with a right forearm strain down the stretch and went just two innings in his final start of the season on Oct. 3.

And it was hard to blame the pitching in their 2-1 loss to the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park, as it was again the offense that scuffled, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position to extend their streak to 19 straight at-bats without a hit in those situations during this series.

“As far as run prevention, I thought we pitched pretty well,” said manager Dave Roberts. “We've got to play better baseball. When we do have opportunities to cash in, we've got to take advantage of them.”

Lefty helped pick up the slack by throwing three innings in relief of Gonsolin, and he was mostly solid outside of surrendering a go-ahead solo homer to Trent Grisham in the fourth inning that ended up being the winning run.

Heaney, making his first career postseason appearance, came into a tough situation with runners at first and third with one out after Gonsolin gave up back-to-back singles and was removed from the game after having thrown 42 pitches. Jurickson Profar bunted for the second out and Heaney got Juan Soto to pop out to shortstop to end the inning.

"I knew my role was going to be kind of that early, long relief and so I was prepared for that,” Heaney said. “I was fortunate to get out of that inning unscathed there in the second. And then just the one pitch to Grisham, just too much plate, and he put a good swing on it.”

The Dodgers bridged the gap the rest of the way with scoreless outings from right-hander Yency Almonte (two-thirds of an inning), lefty Alex Vesia (two-thirds), right-hander Evan Phillips (1 1/3 innings) and right-hander Tommy Kahnle (one inning).

"They did fantastic,” Gonsolin said. “Heaney, Yency, Ves, Evan, Tommy -- they all did a great job. They threw strikes. They pounded the zone. They executed pitches. They did really good."

Left-hander Tyler Anderson starts Game 4 for the Dodgers and they're hoping for a longer outing from him, as their starters have combined for 11 1/3 innings in three games this series. Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw each went five innings in their starts at Dodger Stadium.

The bullpen has been plenty effective despite that workload, with a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings. Both runs allowed by the bullpen in this series came on solo homers, and catcher Austin Barnes was impressed by what he saw from Dodgers relievers on Friday.

"They did a great job,” Barnes said. “All of our pitchers were put in tough spots. [The Padres] had good at-bats against us and they had a lot of traffic, but to give up two runs, [the bullpen] did everything they could to give us a chance to win the game."

The Dodgers should have a full bullpen for Game 4, outside of Heaney, and they also have right-hander Dustin May available in long relief. May threw three simulated innings Sunday, so he’s plenty stretched out if he’s needed to go multiple innings.

The Dodgers also didn't use relievers Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen or Chris Martin on Friday. Treinen, who was limited to five appearances during the regular season because of shoulder issues, gave up a solo homer to Jake Cronenworth in Game 2's 5-3 loss on Wednesday and isn't available to pitch on back-to-back days. Martin served as the club's closer in its Game 1 victory, but hasn’t appeared since.

And if the Dodgers find a way to win Game 4, it’ll be all hands on deck behind likely starter Urías in the deciding Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, including Kershaw being available in relief. So, the Dodgers aren’t ready to hit the panic button, especially with how well they’ve pitched this series.

“There's a lot of guys in that clubhouse that have played in do-or-die games,” Roberts said. “So, it's not a situation where I expect us to panic. We've got to play good baseball. Joe Musgrove is going to be ready, Tyler Anderson will be ready, and offensively we've just got to come together and push some runs across. As far as the mindset or the mentality, we have a lot of guys that have been there."