Video Credit: MLB

Recap: Dodgers vs Braves – NLCS – Game 2

Dodgers (5-2)  |  Braves (7-0)


Everyone was all set for Clayton Kershaw to start Game 2 of the NLCS. But on Tuesday morning Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts scratched Kershaw due to back spasms and announced Tony Gonsolin as his starting pitcher.


Dodgers vs Braves
Photo Credit: True Blue LA

There will be speculation as to whether or not Kershaw had back spasms since Saturday, as Roberts said, but the Dodgers had the best record for a reason, and it wasn’t just because of their hitting. The Dodgers‘ pitching staff was one of the best, and Gonsolin could make the case to be near the top of the list.

The second-year starter finished the season 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA, striking out 46 and a 0.83 WHIP. He has a dominant split-finger, nice movement on his four-seam fastball, and his slider and curveball have got some really good bite to them.

Gonsolin was put on alert when he was scheduled to throw to hitters in a simulated game setting Saturday but instead threw a bullpen. Now Gonsolin faced the immediate and unexpected pressure of keeping Los Angeles out of an 0-2 series deficit in his postseason debut.

As for Kershaw, the next time he will start, barring a setback, would be Game 4. Kershaw began to have the back spasms on Saturday, and the Dodgers hoped he would work through them, but that wasn’t the case.

Kershaw has dealt with back problems at various points during this career, including a bout of back tightness that put him on the injured list for the first week of the 2020 season. Naturally, the timing couldn’t be much worse for Kershaw to again suffer back woes just hours before the start of Game 2, and the question now becomes when exactly the longtime Dodgers ace will be able to pitch again.

Roberts said Julio Urias would start Game 3 of the NLCS, and Kershaw would then start Game 4.



Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves – National League Championship Series Game #2


Game 2 – Loss – 8-7


Dodgers vs Braves
Photo Credit: ESPN

The first three innings of Game 2 were all about pitching. Neither team scored. While the Braves Ian Anderson didn’t give up a run, Gonsolin was more dominant and seemed to control the game. In fact, the young starters combined to give up only one hit, a single to Justin Turner in the first inning.

But after a leadoff walk to Ronald Acuna Jr. at the top of the fourth, Freddie Freeman took Gonsolin deep to right for a two-run home run to give the Braves a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers. In the fifth inning, with one out, Gonsonlin walked Nick Markakis, and Cristian Pache followed that with a double that scored him to give the Braves a 3-0 lead.

Gonsolin was pulled after a walk to Acuna and the flood gates opened from there. Pedro Beaz was brought in to face Freeman, who promptly singled in Pache with Acuna going to third base and the Braves now leading 4-0. After an Ozuna walk, Travis d’Arnuad also walked, forcing in Acuna and making it 5-0 Atlanta.

Ozzie Albies was robbed of an extra-base hit by center fielder Cody Bellinger, but the Braves scored another run on the sacrifice fly to make it 6-0, and that chased Beaz out of the game after only 1/3 of an inning pitched. Dylan Floro was brought in to eat up outs and help save the other guys in the bullpen. Floro struck out Dansby Swanson, and the inning was finally over for the Dodgers and Dodgers fans.

But the game got out of control, and the Dodgers couldn’t recover, despite scoring seven runs in the final three innings. The lack of offense and lack of timely hitting is yet again the Dodgers‘ biggest postseason nemesis. Hopefully, for Los Angeles, their bats getting hot late is a good sign for them in the future.


The Dodgers stratagy heading into the series was to force the Braves pitchers into high pitch counts or force them into throwing one pitch. That isn’t working so they need to figure out the Braves’ young starters quickly or their season will be over.



Dodgers vs Braves
Photo Credit: LA Times

In years past, the Dodgers offense has struggled in the postseason being too reliant on home runs, but that wasn’t the case in Game’s 1 or 2 of the 2020 NLCS. The Braves pitching has been outstanding and stifled the Dodgers offense to the point of Dodgers fans saying, “it’s the same thing, year, after year, after year.”

One long-time Dodgers fan texted me during the game and said, “Rooting for the Dodgers is a lot like having a pet. Yes, they’ll bring you lots of fun and experience lots of joy and happiness, but in the end, they’ll break your heart.”

Bellinger has to start hitting in the postseason. He is hitting below .190 with 58 strikeouts in his postseason career and yet again has looked lost at the plate against Atlanta. Bellinger’s defense is outstanding, but for a guy who won the NL MVP last year, he doesn’t show up on the big stage, and the Dodgers can’t afford to have any more of those types of guys.

The same can be said for Max Muncy and Joc Pederson. It is baffling, no, maddening to see Muncy and Pederson repeatedly hit directly into the shift for a ground out. Is going the other way for a base hit sacrilegious for them?

At least Muncy has hit the ball hard and in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game, hit a 2-run home run to bring the score to 8-6. Bellinger also had an RBI triple in the ninth to make the score 8-7, so Dodgers fans have a sliver of hope that they both can come out of their postseason slumps.

For the Dodgers to get back in the series, they need to be aggressive and attack the Braves pitchers. They can’t afford to wait for the big shot. Betts, Seager, and Turner have to be the guys to get it started at the top of the order, and Bellinger has to start hitting and not be the guy he has been in past postseasons.

Betts was brought over to help change the way they play. He has done that all season and in the first two rounds of the postseason. But the Dodgers need him to be that guy right now like he was in the ninth inning on Tuesday night getting the rally started; otherwise, they will be sent packing back to L.A. earlier than they wanted.



The Dodgers and Braves will now face off in Game 3 of the NLCS tomorrow. The first pitch scheduled for 3:08 pm and can be seen on FS1.



Scheduled to pitch in Game 3 Wednesday, 10/14


Dodgers: Julio Urias (2-0 / 0.00 ERA) – Braves: Kyle Wright (1-0 / 0.00 ERA)


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Joe Arrigo

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