PITTSBURGH -- After going with a four-man starting rotation for over a month, the Dodgers will welcome back right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who will join the staff and start on Wednesday against the Pirates.
Gonsolin, who was placed on the injured list on April 4 with right shoulder inflammation, will be making his season debut on Wednesday. The right-hander made three starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City during his rehab process, posting a 3.48 ERA and striking out nine over 10 1/3 innings.
Most importantly, Gonsolin is healthy and the Dodgers continue to get closer to full strength after a brutal stretch of injuries to begin the season. The righty is ready to give the Dodgers up to five innings as he makes his season debut.
“It felt like I kind of went through Spring Training again, having to build up again and go through that process was a little different the second time coming off of the injury,” Gonsolin said. “But I’m feeling good, I’m ready to get out there.”
When Dustin May was lost for the season, the Dodgers also had top pitching prospect Josiah Gray and David Price sidelined with injury, either of whom would have been the next option to jump into the rotation. With a series of off-days, the Dodgers were able to get by with four starters, while also mixing in bullpen games.
The bullpen proved strong employing that strategy, allowing three or fewer runs in all four games, but the team went just 1-3 in those contests. Los Angeles was happy with how the bullpen helped weather the storm, but getting Gonsolin back gives the Dodgers another proven Major League starter in what is already considered one of the best starting rotations in the Majors.
Gonsolin’s return also gives manager Dave Roberts an opportunity to be more aggressive with his bullpen, while also managing the innings of his other starters, especially Julio Urías and Walker Buehler. Urías is just 7 1/3 innings shy of surpassing his career high in innings for a single season.
“Having that fifth starter, whoever it might be, is certainly crucial,” Roberts said. “I think we’ve managed pretty well with those four bullpen games, but having the ability to distribute bullpen usage a little bit more to potentially cut back on usage from a couple of games, I think is only a good thing.”
The Dodgers have weathered the storm as they waited for Gonsolin to return, and they’ll welcome him with open arms on Wednesday. The club, however, will have to make a decision with its roster to clear room on the 40-man in order to activate Gonsolin from the 60-day injured list.
Muncy back in the lineup
After being out of the lineup since Friday due to an ankle injury, Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy batted second and played first base in Tuesday’s series opener in Pittsburgh.
Roberts said Muncy is still experiencing some pain when he starts and stops and when he moves laterally, but the first baseman and the training staff assured the Dodgers’ manager that he’s ready to play on Tuesday.
Muncy has been the Dodgers’ best hitter this season, entering Tuesday’s game with 13 homers and a .950 OPS. His 3.3 bWAR leads all position players in the Majors. The first baseman will be out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, as the Dodgers don’t want him to play the field in three consecutive games. Albert Pujols is scheduled to start at first base in his place. Muncy will return to the field in Thursday's series finale.
• Star shortstop Corey Seager continues to go through drills with the Dodgers on the road and the fracture on his right hand continues to heal well. If all continues to progress at this pace, Seager could hit off a tee over the next couple of days. Seager has been taking grounders and going through conditioning work for a couple of weeks. It’s not out of the question that Seager could be back in the Dodgers’ lineup before the All-Star break, but Roberts did not want to put a timeline on his return.
• Catcher Austin Barnes is also recovering from a minor ankle injury and the hope is he’ll be back in the lineup on Thursday. The Dodgers will look to give him the next two days off, but could be available off the bench, if needed.
• Garrett Cleavinger began his rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday, tossing a scoreless innings. It’s the first of several outings for Cleavinger, who could stay in Triple-A OKC following his rehab assignments.