Tony Gonsolin’s playoff status still up in the air for Dodgers

If you’ve won 110 games driving down the National League West road to a division title without even looking in the rearview mirror, you can afford to experiment a little.

And Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium turned into a glorified live batting training session for Dodgers All-Star right-hander Tony Gonsolin, returning from a forearm strain that kept him out of the rotation since 23.08.

But blink hard enough and there were playoff stakes. A few strong innings for Gonsolin meant he could comfortably pin a man with a 2.14 earned run average as a Game 3 or 4 starter for the NL Division Series. A shaky start meant a re-evaluation – perhaps throwing left-hander Andrew Heaney into the mix or putting together a bullpen game.

“That would be a huge confidence boost,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game of the comfort that a strong performance from Gonsolin would bring. “Not just for me, but for Tony.”

Consider questioning that trust.

Gonsolin threw just two innings, one clean and one messy, over 40 pitches Monday. Roberts said before the game that the Dodgers would primarily assess Gonsolin’s speed, sliders and splitters as he worked his way back from a long stint on the injury list.

“If we get through three innings and he’s feeling good, we can take the next step,” Roberts said.

The testimony:

— Speed ​​— as good as new but with spotty command. Gonsolin quickly ramped up his fastball to his season average of 93 mph. However, after a breezy first inning, Colorado’s Elias Díaz and Sean Bouchard lined a single and

— Slider — meh. It was Gonsolin’s most effective spot in terms of on-base-plus-slugging percentage allowed all season, but he struggled to find it. His only abandoned run came from a second inning slider that the Rockies’ Alan Trejo hit into right field for an RBI single.

— Splinters — first softly, then dynamite. Faced with a first and third jam in the second inning after Trejo’s single, Gonsolin hit Ezequiel Tovar and Michael Toglia with splitters to escape.

Find the grade point average and it was a promising effort at times, falling slightly short of Roberts’ target.

“It’s all about executing pitches and I feel like I haven’t done a great job at that,” Gonsolin said.

However, Gonsolin said that if he pitched more innings in a playoff game, he would feel comfortable with progress.

Roberts afterwards said if Gonsolin throws well in a simulated game on Sunday, he could see the starter go four innings in an NLDS start.

After Gonsolin left the game, seven Dodgers helpers looked around before the ninth inning and held the score at 1-1 after Trayce Thompson hit a solo homer in the third inning for the Dodgers.

Point made: If the Dodgers are forced into a bullpen game in mid-October, the Cavalry will be ready and able.

Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin sits in the dugout before Monday's game against the Colorado Rockies.

Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin sits in the dugout before Monday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“It might be unique not to have clearly defined roles, especially in the postseason,” right-hander Evan Phillips said before the game. “But we have proven that we can do it that way.”

Did a great job – until the bullpen gate opened for the ninth inning. The inning was a thorn in the side of the Dodgers all season and wasn’t resolved simply because Craig Kimbrel was demoted from the role of closer. Roberts turned to Brusdar Graterol, who made a save on Saturday, for the final inning and was burned when Graterol passed an RBI single to Toglia to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

At the end of the ninth, Freddie Freeman almost won the game with a deep drive into right field after Trea Turner singled. But Randal Grichuk from Colorado tracked it down on the wall.

“When you’re sniffing the regular-season finish line, maybe that little advantage isn’t quite as automatic,” Roberts said of the team’s recent offensive struggles.

The result ultimately mattered little. However, the stakes for a postseason pitching plan have been set.

Dave Roberts is worried about Chris Taylor’s injury

The Dodgers could enter the postseason without a key playoff hero of years past. Outfielder Chris Taylor wasn’t in the lineup for the third straight day after neck strain lasted enough for Roberts to tell reporters, “It’s stiff, it hurts, it hurts to swing the bat.”

The manager added, “Talking about the neck, as a baseball player, you have to do a lot of things to be dynamic. I am anxious.”

Concerned enough that Roberts has been outspoken that Taylor may not be healthy when the NLDS comes up next week.

“I’m still hopeful,” said Roberts. “But to say it’s not a possibility [he’s not healthy]I don’t think it would be honest.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Taylor struggled with a similar neck issue while the Dodgers were preparing for October and missing a number of games. His production slumped in September when he finished the sixth month for 52. He’s slumped similarly lately, in a three-on-30 stretch ahead of a three-on-four on Friday.

Overall, it was his worst season in a Dodgers uniform, as he only cut .221/.304/.373.

Taylor received a cortisone shot Monday morning, Roberts said, and the manager still hoped Taylor would play in the Dodgers’ final regular-season game against Colorado on Wednesday.

Blake Treinen, meanwhile, had a productive bullpen session, Roberts said. The reliever has missed much of this season with a shoulder problem, but if he can face hitters sooner rather than later, there’s a slim chance he can flow into a crowded Dodgers bullpen in the postseason.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-10-03/dodgers-rockies-recap-tony-gonsolin-return Tony Gonsolin’s playoff status still up in the air for Dodgers

Emma Bowman

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