MIAMI -- Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin was scheduled to start against the Marlins on Monday. Instead, Los Angeles will be without Gonsolin for at least a few weeks as the team placed the All-Star on the 15-day injured list with a right forearm strain, retroactive to Friday.
Gonsolin said he experienced some tightness following his last start against the Brewers on Tuesday. It was similar to something he experienced earlier in the season, giving him optimism that it would dissipate in a few days.
But after still feeling discomfort throughout the week and after his in-between start bullpen session, Gonsolin notified pitching coach Mark Prior, who decided that it would be best to give him some extra rest.
Gonsolin said all the initial tests checked out OK and that he just needs rest and won’t need to get any further testing.
The Dodgers, however, were able to withstand the loss of Gonsolin, at least for one night, as a Will Smith two-run homer and strong pitching performances carried Los Angeles to a 3-2 win over Miami in 10 innings on Monday at loanDepot Park.
“We just came to the conclusion that it would probably be best to skip this one, and since we’re doing that, might as well give it a break for 15 days,” Gonsolin said. “Just give it that two-week break.”
Forearm injuries are always tricky, and the fact the schedule flips into September in a few days gives Gonsolin little room for error during his rehab. But despite the tightness, Gonsolin and manager Dave Roberts both remained optimistic that his absence won’t extend past Sept. 10, when he’s eligible to return from the IL.
“He’s gone so hard all year,” Roberts said. “So to make that IL move, to skip two starts, it just didn’t seem like a whole lot of cost, and hopefully that’ll kind of reset him and get him ready for the postseason.”
Gonsolin has been one of the best pitchers in the Majors this season, positioning himself to be in the discussion for the National League Cy Young Award. He leads the NL with 16 wins and a 2.10 ERA. The .169 batting average against Gonsolin is the lowest in the Majors this season. At 128 1/3 innings, however, Gonsolin has blown past his career high in innings pitched during a big league season.
“Obviously this is uncharted territory for him,” Roberts said of the innings count. “I think the one part of it is, yeah, you do lose a little bit of momentum to the season you’re having, but I think the most important part is we’ve got to do what we can to keep him healthy. If he’s healthy, then we’ll bet on the performance.”
A few days ago, Roberts called Gonsolin “a frontline starter” as the Dodgers prepare for the postseason. Losing him for an extended period of time would be another significant loss for the club, which also recently lost Walker Buehler for the season.
Before Gonsolin’s injury, the Dodgers were planning to trot out a six-man rotation for “at least a couple of weeks,” according to Roberts. In his absence, the club will need to decide whether that will still be its plan, which would help limit the workload on its pitchers heading into the last full month of the regular season.
If the Dodgers decide to go to a six-man rotation, Michael Grove, who was called up to start on Monday, Ryan Pepiot and Andre Jackson are all options to make starts. Los Angeles wraps up the regular season with a stretch where it will play 26 games in 28 days.
L.A. has the luxury to be patient and manage workloads as its magic number to win the NL West is down to 15 following Monday’s win.
“We have a decision either to forgo that and not give guys extra rest, or insert someone else, whether it’s Michael or somebody else, to kind of fill that void,” Roberts said. “Those are talks right now and we’ll see how guys come out of their next starts to figure out which way we go.”
Regardless of that decision, Los Angeles will continue to lean heavily on Julio Urías, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Dustin May and Clayton Kershaw. The three-time NL Cy Young winner threw a bullpen session on Monday and will likely come off the injured list and start on Thursday against the Mets, though Roberts and the Dodgers have shied away from making that official.