Braves @ Dodgers April 20, 2022: Gonsolin seeking series victory to cap off first homestand

Dodger Stadium
Photo: Cody Bashore

With a seven-game win streak snapped Tuesday night thanks to Max Fried‘s 7 shutout innings and 8 strikeouts (and just two hits), the Dodgers get another chance to earn a series victory over the Braves before heading to San Diego and Arizona over the next week.

In what is going to be a very obvious correlation, last night was only the second time a starter lasted into the 7th inning against the Dodgers this season, with Los Angeles losing both times. One of those games came with Tony Gonsolin on the other side, as the Dodgers fell 3-2 in Colorado in the second game of the season. Gonsolin allowed one run in his 3 innings, striking out three to one walk but allowing five hits. Fried induced 13 swings and misses last night, the most by an opposing pitcher through the first 11 games of the season. Splitting the Whiffs across five different pitches, Friend wrapped up his night with three swinging strikeouts in his final inning of work.

Charlie Morton will look to continue Fried’s success, though he’s coming off a rough outing in San Diego earlier this week. Allowing five runs on nine hits and three walks, Morton struck out five in his 5 IP. Morton is obviously pretty familiar at this point, with four postseason starts against the Dodgers for the Braves, Rays and Astros since 2017.

Allowing two runs on three hits and six(!!!) walks in Game 3 of the NLCS last season, Morton finished with a no decision in the Dodgers’ 6-5 win thanks to Cody Bellinger‘s three-run homer and Mookie Betts‘ go-ahead double in the bottom of the 8th. Morton also finished with a no decision last August, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks.

The 38-year-old Morton finished with 12 swings and misses against the Padres, with seven coming on his curveball. It’s only been two starts, and 173 pitches, but Morton’s continued his rising trend of primarily using a four-seam fastball and curveball while dropping his sinker usage drastically over the past seven years. Signed to a one-year, $15 million deal for 2021, Morton’s 3.34 ERA/3.18 FIP/3.31 xFIP across 185 2/3 IP last season earned him $20 million for 2022 and possibly another $20 million in 2023 via a club option.

As for Gonsolin, 11 swings and misses against the Reds included five off his splitter and four off of his slider. Throwing just 62 pitches in his season debut back on April 9 in Colorado, Gonsolin bumped up to 74 gains the Reds in Los Angeles. Again, it’s been just two games but Gonsolin is following the same basic blueprint of four-seam/slider/splitter to right-handed batters and primarily four-seamer/splitter to lefties with the occasional curve or splitter mixed in. He’s been higher in usage with the slider to righties so far, but it doesn’t really mean much yet.

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Image Image
12:10 PM Los Angeles
2B Albies (S) RF Betts
1B Olson (L) 1B Freeman (L)
DH Ozuna SS T. Turner
CF Duvall 2B Muncy (L)
LF Rosario (L) 3B J. Turner
3B Arcia C Smith
RF Heredia CF Bellinger (L)
C Pina LF Taylor
SS Swanson DH Rios (L)
P Morton (R) P Gonsolin (R)

Will Smith unsurprisingly gets the start at catcher this afternoon after Austin Barnes caught Walker Buehler last night. Edwin Rios is in the starting line up at DH for the third time in the past five games, while Gavin Lux is out again after being scratched last night. Here’s what Dave Roberts said after the game.

And possibly related:

In incredibly meaningless stats I feel compelled to include because there’s so little to go on this early in the season, Zach McKinstry had four hits in 14 ABs during the spring while walking once and striking out three times. Down in OKC since the start of the minor league seasons, he’s had a pretty great start.

For what it’s worth, Roberts did say he expected Lux to be back in the lineup on Friday and McKinstry will travel to San Diego with the team as insurance.

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First pitch from Dodger Stadium is scheduled for 12:10 PM PDT and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.

About 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.