The Los Angeles Dodgers are already in trouble after losing Game 1 of the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves, but their World Series hopes just got even bleaker.
Clayton Kershaw, the three-time NL Cy Young winner who was scheduled to start Game 2, was scratched Tuesday due to back spasms. The Dodgers will now start 26-year-old Tony Gonsolin in what could be considered a must-win game. Could LA be heading for yet another disappointing playoff exit in 2020?
Clayton Kershaw had a stellar 2020 season
Kershaw has been the Dodgers’ No. 1 starting pitcher for nearly a decade, and that didn’t change this season. The starting pitcher finished the regular season with a 6-2 record and a 2.16 ERA, which is his lowest mark since the 2016 season.
In 10 starts, Kershaw recorded 62 strikeouts and surrendered just 14 earned runs. When he toed the rubber this season, the Dodgers were almost unbeatable. LA went 8-2 in his 10 starts this year.
There’s just a certain confidence that exudes from the boys in blue when Kershaw starts a game. The team knows it can trust him, and that couldn’t be more important in playoff baseball.
But now, the Dodgers will have to put their trust in a second-year pitcher making his first-ever postseason start on Tuesday night.
Kershaw scratched for Game 2 with back spasms, Tony Gonsolin to start
Kershaw was expected to make his first start of the 2020 NLCS on Tuesday night, but a surprising twist has forced him out of action. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, Kershaw has been scratched from his scheduled start in Game 2 due to back spasms.
Tony Gonsolin, the second-year starting pitcher who’s never made a postseason start, will take his place.
Gonsolin actually isn’t much of a downgrade in terms of production this season. He recorded a 2.31 ERA in eight starts, and he didn’t give up more than four runs in any game.
Gonsolin got off to a blistering start to the 2020 season, as he gave up just one earned run over his first four starts. He struggled a bit down the stretch, giving up six earned runs in his last 11 innings pitched, but he still finished the season with solid overall numbers.
The 26-year-old hasn’t pitched in a game in 17 days, and he hasn’t yet made a postseason start in his short career. Controlling the nerves will be crucial for Gonsolin when he faces the Braves on short notice Tuesday.
Losing Kershaw is a devastating blow to the Dodgers’ World Series hopes
The Dodgers have been one of the prohibitive favorites to win the World Series in each of the last five years, but they just can’t seem to get over the hump. LA reached the World Series twice in the last three years but fell short both times.
The Dodgers were expected to represent the National League again in 2020, but they find themselves down 1-0 in the NLCS with question marks surrounding their premier starting pitcher. If Kershaw can’t go for the rest of the series, LA has an uphill climb to catch the Braves and reach the World Series yet again.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference