When I first stepped up to write this article it looked like game 6 of the 2020 World Series would be a bullpen game. But Dave Roberts clarified some points on Monday’s off day.
Dave Roberts said that Tony Gonsolin is the starter in Game 6, and not simply the 'opener', hoping he can go as long as possible for #Dodgers
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 26, 2020
This is great news in my opinion. Tony Gonsolin has had a tough postseason but no one game was normal for him. First, he went 17 days without appearing in a game before being used as a bit piece in bullpen games in his next two appearances. When he was brought up permanently in 2020 he was used as a starter and had an excellent season.
Baseball America even chose him as their 2020 Rookie of the Year. Not every pitcher can bounce around in their roles.
On Monday we also learned that Gonsolin has known about this game 6 start since his game 2 misfire.
#Dodgers Tony Gonsolin said he was told after Game 2 "opener thing" that he would start Game 6 and has been in preparation since: "It feels like I'm back on a normal routine like I had all season."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 26, 2020
If Gonsolin goes less than five innings, there might be an issue but I expect him to rise to the occasion. However, what happens if Gonsolin cannot go too far? My initial thought was Julio Urías on short rest, but that he seems to be off the table for game 6. He probably could not go multiple innings.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said everyone except Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and Walker Buehler will be available in Game 6
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 26, 2020
I think we’ll see Dave Roberts immediately look at matchups. With Gonsolin being right-handed the Rays will probably have three of their first three of their first four or five batters batting left-handed. Following with Alex Wood or Jake McGee would make sense. It seems Wood has regained some velocity as he topped out at 92.7 MPH in an effective game 2 outing. One goal should be to see if the Rays will start pulling out some of their left-handed hitters earlier in the game. They have a deep bench, carrying 15 position players on their roster offering more lineup flexibility than the Dodgers.
Who Is Available
As was stated earlier, Julio Urías is supposedly not available. I actually don’t believe it. There is no doubt in my mind he might be used to get some though left-handed hitters out. Brandon Lowe has three home runs in eight at-bats against right-handed pitching in the World Series. Against left-handed pitching, he’s been held hitless. Lowe is also a player they don’t pinch hit for very much. Other than right-handed breakout hitter Randy Arozarena, the other hitter that is making a difference is left-handed hitter Kevin Kiermaier who is hitting well against all pitching. Manuel Margot has reverse splits but has been hitting lately.
A Desired Strategy for the Middle Innings
Earlier I wrote about making the Rays bring in their right-handed hitters to pinch hit for the lefties early. The Dodgers strength in the bullpen is right-handers. I want to see the Rays run out of options earlier in the game so that the Dodgers pitchers have the matchup advantage. With possible rain on Tuesday it is most likely the roof will be closed. That means the ball won’t fly as far. The Dodgers need to keep the walks down and pound the zone.
One thing that still can slip our minds as fans is that a pitcher cannot be removed unless they face three batters or the inning ends. This gives an advantage to an offense like the Rays who have a six man bench and can create some bad matchups. The last time the Rays faced a right-handed starter in game 3, three of their first four hitters were left-handed hitters.
Finishing the Game
Dave Roberts has said that Kenley Jansen is available for high-leverage situations.
For some of us that is terrifying. People have focused on various reasons for Jansen’s failure in game four but when it mattered most he was missing the desired location a lot. The two blooper type hits were hit off of pitches that were way lower that the high target that Will Smith had set up. The desire is to get someone to pop up or chase something out of the strike zone. Instead, some cheap contact fell in and the Dodgers lost game 4.
When Jansen misses with his 90-92 MPH non-cutting cutter (it does move sometimes) it is a pitch that is easy to hit. When someone like Blake Treinen is missing his location the ball still has video game movement. Same with Brusdar Graterol – him missing at 101 MPH with some movement is much better than anything Jansen throws. The one thing Brusdar is missing is the swing and miss capability but he definitely draws soft contact.
To be really entertained take a look at Brusdar’s advanced metrics here.
Despite many pleadings, the Dodgers will probably close with either Jansen or Treinen. However, if Brandon Lowe is due up I can see Julio Urías being brought in, no matter what Roberts said earlier. Julio in short relief usually means an uptick in velocity to 97-98 MPH. That’s my game 6 closer!
Julio Urías, Painted 97mph Fastball. ???????? pic.twitter.com/Y75Ppwt4AP
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 24, 2018
I was relieved to hear that Tony Gonsolin would be to actually be more than an “opener”. He’s pitching in a role he has been comfortable with and I expect a big game from him. We’ve seen him dominate some good offensive teams before (Padres twice this year and the Yankees and Cardinals in 2019). The Rays have barely seen him and they will now see him in a role he is comfortable with. When it comes to closing the game I hope Dave Roberts doesn’t try to fix someone’s legacy. Go with the best option and I don’t think it is Kenley Jansen anymore. Dodgers in 6!