Rays “@” Dodgers World Series Game 6: Snell vs. Gonsolin and a chance at the title

I can nearly copy and paste the opening to my Game 4 thread here.

It seems like an obvious statement, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the World Series.

It isn’t just a commanding lead anymore, but the series victory itself. The first title since 1988 and the end of a lot of misery for many, many Dodger fans.

In both 2017 and 2018, the Dodgers trailed 2-1 after three games. They never held a two-game advantage and only once played in a series-clinching game, 2017’s unfortunate Game 7.

Still haven’t held a two-game advantage, but this will be a chance to do so while clinching the series.

The Dodgers also haven’t won consecutive World Series games since clinching the 1988 title in Game 5.

Amazingly this is also still true, though tonight is yet another chance to end this sort of odd fact as well.

Even with the disaster finish to Game 4, the Dodgers have two chances to finally come away with a World Series victory. Somewhat amazingly, it’ll be Tony Gonsolin, in his 17th start in the majors and 24th appearance, looking to get things started off right.

And I don’t say amazingly as if he’s the wrong choice here. It is the absolutely right call in my opinion. But a little less than 100 days ago, Gonsolin wasn’t on the Opening Day roster. There’s some logical reasons to that, but this still looks a little funny for the guy who is trying to help clinch a World Series title.

After pitching two innings in Game 7 against the Braves and 1 1/3 IP in Game 2 against the Rays (on two days rest), Gonsolin is in line for a more traditional start.

Back in Game 2 against Atlanta, Gonsolin lasted 4 1/3 IP and allowed five runs on three hits and three walks. Two of those runs came home when Pedro Baez allowed a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly after entering in the 5th, and Gonsolin struck out seven of the 13 batters he retired.

Named Baseball America’s 2020 MLB Rookie Of The Year on Monday, Gonsolin’s slider (wSL/C, 3.37) and fastball (wFA/C, 3.41) ranked among FanGraph’s top five among pitchers with at least 40 innings. Gonsolin’s season wasn’t any kind of fluke as he backed up his 2.31 ERA with a 2.29 FIP and a 3.80 xFIP. His K% rose to 26.1% from last season’s 22.7% while his HR/FB rate dropped to 4.0% from 8.5% in 2019.

After pitching on Sept. 26 to wrap up his regular season, Gonsolin didn’t step on the mound in a game against until Oct. 13. Now that he’s returned to regular rest and is back in the role he held during the regular season, ideally his postseason numbers will return to something more closely resembling his regular season.

He’s walked seven batters in his 7 2/3 IP so far while also giving up three homers. Obviously the postseason is an incredibly small sample size, but batters have simply put the ball in the air more often against Gonsolin during the playoffs while he’s also thrown less strikes (57%) in his three quick appearances than during the regular season (67%).

——

Opposing Gonsolin, it’ll be Blake Snell who pitched 4 2/3 innings in Game 2. Allowing just two runs on two hits, the four walks and nine strikeouts helped push Snell out of the game early.

However, eight different Dodgers went down on strikes against Snell before he departed, with only Cody Bellinger spared. Snell’s slider finished with a 69% Whiff rate, generating nine misses on 13 swings and finished off five of his strikeouts.

Only four sliders were put into play, and none were fouled off, with Snell’s final batter of the day getting the lone hit (Corey Seager‘s single in the 5th). Mookie Betts had laid off three sliders one batter earlier when he drew a walk. Those two plate appearances came after a walk to Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor‘s two-run homer as Snell’s day finally came to an end.

——

Image Image
5:08 p.m. Arlington
1B Choi (L) RF Betts
LF Arozarena SS Seager (L)
DH Meadows (L) 3B Turner
2B Lowe (L) 1B Muncy (L)
RF Margot DH Smith
3B Wendle (L) CF Bellinger (L)
SS Adames 2B Taylor
CF Kiermaier (L) LF Pollock
C Zunino C Barnes
P Snell (L) P Gonsolin (R)

After I pointed out how much AJ Pollock had struggled in the playoffs, he doubled and walked in Game 4. He’s back out in left field for Game 6 against another lefty while Austin Barnes catches again. He’s just 1-for-10 against Tampa, but walked twice in Game 5 after bringing in a pair of runs in Game 3.

Those two, in addition to others obviously, need to step up tonight with Snell on the mound.

——

Here’s the update on how the bullpen looks with yesterday’s day off.

Game 1,  Oct. 20Game 2,  Oct. 21Game 3,  Oct. 23Game 4, Oct. 24Game 5, Oct. 25
Baez1 IP, 111 2/3 IP, 26
Buehler6 IP, 93
Floro1/3 IP, 151 1/3 IP, 19
Gonsolin1 1/3 IP, 29
Gonzalez2/3 IP, 141 IP, 102/3 IP, 12
Graterol1 IP, 71/3 IP, 7
Jansen1 IP, 152/3 IP, 21
Kelly1 IP, 101 IP, 16
Kershaw6 IP, 785 2/3 IP, 85
Kolarek2/3 IP, 9
May1 1/3 IP, 251 2/3 IP, 30
McGee1 IP, 16
Treinen1 IP, 142/3 IP, 161 IP, 12
Urias4 2/3 IP, 80
Wood2 IP, 26

Naturally, just about everyone is available to go tonight. While Dave says Julio isn’t available, I tend to believe Dustin’s point here…

——

First pitch is set for 5:08 p.m. on FOX.

Like Daniel and so many more Dodger fans, I too have a rather sentimental attachment to this team. Baseball was the first sport I can remember watching with my grandfather (RIP), and the Dodgers were the first team I developed a passion for. He was also the person truly responsible for setting me on the path to what has become my full-time career and probably a reason I ever landed the opportunity to write for this website. Honestly, it is still a bit surreal I’ve been able to write about this team for nearly a year now and have the chance to simply preview some of these World Series games.

The Dodgers, to my best recollection, were the first professional team I saw in person and there’s countless random moments I can vividly recall sharing with my grandfather through the years.

Some of them are odd, like talking about the usefulness of the Dodgers signing Fred McGriff after hearing the news on the radio as we drove to one of his holiday tournaments for basketball (he was a coach, including one of my own, for decades.) Others are more obvious, like him telling me all about Shawn Green‘s historic day in 2002 that I missed because I was in school that day and that was the player I’d quickly grown to love.

Hopefully this is finally it for all of us who have these stories and love this team for whatever the reason may be.

Please.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.