The Dodgers will have rookie Tony Gonsolin start Game 6 of the World Series with a chance to win their first championship in 32 years Tuesday, manager Dave Roberts announced late Sunday after the club’s Game 5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Gonsolin was the choice after the Dodgers beat Tampa Bay 4-2 to ensure Game 6 wouldn’t be an elimination game. The Dodgers could’ve opted to have ace Walker Buehler start Tuesday on three days’ rest, but Roberts said that wasn’t considered. Buehler would start in a Game 7, if necessary.
Tuesday’s start will mark the end to a roller coaster season for Gonsolin, 26, who reported to summer camp late after testing positive for the coronavirus and didn’t make the opening day roster. He was called up to make a spot start eight days into the season, but returned to the Dodgers’ alternate site for two weeks before he was recalled again. He ended up sticking.
Gonsolin pitched well enough for the Dodgers to become part of the team’s postseason plans and feel comfortable trading Ross Stripling, an established veteran, at the trade deadline for prospects. Gonsolin finished the season with 2.31 ERA and 46 strikeouts to seven walks in 46 2/3 innings across nine games.
But Gonsolin has struggled in the postseason. He has allowed eight runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings over three games — one as a conventional starter, one as an opener and one as a reliever. He’s given up three home runs after giving up two in the regular season.
“I want the ball, want to give our team a chance to win every time I go out to pitch,” Gonsolin said after opening Game 2 of the World Series. “It’s been a lot of fun, been a learning experience for me to do different things, starting, then throwing in three days. I’m trying to take it as a learning experience and go from there.”
Gonsolin gave up five runs and three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks across 4 1/3 innings in his first playoff outing — a start in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves after not pitching the previous two weeks.
He then pitched out of the bullpen in Game 7 of the NLCS, allowing two runs in two innings. He was chosen to open Game 2 of the World Series — a Dodgers loss — on two days’ rest and surrendered a run on a home run by Brandon Lowe in 1 1/3 innings.
“I think I can definitely take trying to maintain my sharpness in between outings,” Gonsolin said. “Not trying to have all of my stuff show up on day five or whatever my start day is, being able to day to day work on that and hone the execution so it can be available when I need it.”
He’ll need it Tuesday with a chance to help end the Dodgers’ championship drought.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.