LOS ANGELES -- Giovany Gonzalez's night ended sooner than expected. The Brewers starting pitcher left Game 4 of the National League Championship Series injured on Tuesday, and now the rest of his postseason is in jeopardy.
The high left-ankle sprain Gonzalez suffered trying to field a second-inning comebacker off the bat of Yasiel Puig has the Brewers prepping a potential roster move before today's Game 5, after the injury forced Gonzalez from his second postseason start after an inning-plus.
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"It's likely that we're going to have to replace him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
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Clubs are permitted to replace injured players on postseason rosters with one condition. The player who is removed from the roster is not eligible to play in the next round. So if Milwaukee replaces Gonzalez, he would not be allowed to pitch in the World Series if the Brewers were to advance.
If it comes to that, the Brewers have options, and they'll likely choose with an eye toward covering innings after Counsell used seven pitchers in Tuesday's 2-1, 13-inning loss in Game 4. Chase Anderson and Zach Davies both fit that bill. Left-hander Dan Jennings is a candidate as well, though Milwaukee is already carrying Xavier Cedeno as a situational lefty in the bullpen behind Josh Hader.
Anderson and Davies began the year as Milwaukee's top two starters, but both were left off the rosters for the postseason's first two rounds. Anderson last pitched on Sept. 18, and hasn't completed more than four innings in an appearance since Sept. 7. Davies last pitched in the season's final week, going four innings in a win against Detroit. Jennings has yet to appear in the postseason as well.
Gonzalez was never long for Game 4, with the Brewers planning to go to their bullpen aggressively as they have all postseason. But he left earlier even expected after landing awkwardly in the second inning, then limping to corral what turned into an infield hit for Puig up the third-base line.
Gonzalez's reaction prompted a visit from Counsell and head athletic trainer Dan Wright, who initially kept Gonzalez in the game. After the conference, Gonzalez made a pickoff throw to first before delivering a pitch to the next batter, Austin Barnes. Counsell and Wright then emerged again from the dugout to remove Gonzalez, who was visibly upset to leave the game.
Gonzalez called his ankle "sore" after the game, before declining further comment. One of the Brewers' more effective starters down the stretch, the veteran lefty pitched to a 2.13 ERA across five starts after being acquired from the Nationals in late August. He did not appear in the NL Division Series against the Rockies, but was tabbed to make a truncated start in Game 1 of the NLCS. He ended up completing two innings, facing the Dodgers lineup one time through before Counsell began emptying his bullpen.
Gonzalez's leash was expected to be similarly short in Game 4, then tightened after Gonzalez labored through an eventful first inning. He threw just 10 of his 26 pitches for strikes in the frame, when the Dodgers struck first on an RBI single from James Dozier. The one-inning outing matched Shaun Marcum's start in Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS for the shortest in postseason franchise history.