The biggest strength of the Dodgers so far this season has been the solid production from the starting pitching. Even with the loss of Dustin May, just as he was starting to come into his own, Los Angeles has been lead by its four-man rotation. Despite their occasional blowups, the bullpen has also played a big role every fifth day.
While having a bullpen game has its drawbacks, it’s worked out for the Dodgers to this point. When asked about how he thought the team absorbed the workload of not having a fifth starter, Dave Roberts spoke about how pleased with the pen, especially two specific pitchers.
“The guys in the pen, namely David Price and Jimmy Nelson, really stepped up. I think that those guys, being able to take down some innings, and also we had a chance to learn about some others guys. Some guys that are here with us and some guys that are not, so to have that I think it was four of those bullpen games, we weathered it and got through it as good as we could’ve hoped.”
Cat Man is Back
Of course, holding bullpen games over the length of a full season would not be ideal for any team. Thankfully for Los Angeles, help has finally arrived in the form of Tony “Cat Man” Gonsolin. The 27-year old right-hander was electric during the shortened 2020 season but has been sidelined so far this year due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder. However, he’s slated to return and make his season debut on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Having him back in the fold will allow Roberts to shift how he utilizes the bullpen and could also help with limiting innings of Walker Buehler and Julio Urías who are quickly approaching their career highs in innings pitched. Doc mentioned how Gonsolin’s return is a big help for the team as a whole.
“Having Tony’s (Gonsolin) innings is certainly – having that fifth starter’s, whoever it might be – is certainly crucial. I think we managed pretty well with those 4 bullpen games. But, having the ability to distribute bullpen usage a little bit more to potentially cut back on usage from a couple guys I think is only a good thing.”
If Gonsolin can tap into his 2020 self, then this rotation should only get more dangerous than what it already is. His fresh arm should allow for the pen as well as his rotation mates to get some rest as the team will need all hands on deck down the stretch.