In search of any grain of an advantage, neither the Dodgers nor Giants have publicly decided on a Game 4 starting pitcher.
As the Dodgers and Giants prepare for Game 3 of the evenly split NLDS, managers Gabe Kapler and Dave Roberts are keeping their decision-making guarded, at least when it comes to how they’ll attack Game 4.
The Dodgers showed their hands more than SF. Catcher Will Smith said he thinks right-handed pitcher Tony Gonsolin is starting Game 4. Roberts said Gonsolin “is part of the equation tomorrow.”
There was even a possible split of the tongue from Gonsolin himself.
“It’s just another start,” Gonsolin said. “Got to go out there, or whenever I pitch. I don’t know if I’m starting yet.”
But all Roberts disclosed was the fact that Gonsolin is a possibility. He added the way he deploys the bullpen in Game 3 could affect how things shake up for Game 4.
“I just don’t want to set that one in stone right now,” the 2016 NL Manager of the Year said.
Typically, the next day’s starter speaks to reporters at an interview room podium. For the Dodgers, Gonsolin addressed the media Monday, while reliever Jake McGee fielded questions for the Giants.
All signs point to Gonsolin as the likely choice for LA. Since coming off the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, the righty has built back up from 55 to 78 pitches. He’s stretched out enough to be more than an opener. Roberts said he’s physically fine and threw a simulated game recently. But they could still use him as an opener.
The Giants’ choice may be more interesting. Kapler said righty Anthony DeSclafani is a “great option” to start Game 4. However, DeSclafani is also ready to pitch on Monday if needed, which could happen if starter Alex Wood stumbles opposite Max Scherzer.
“I don’t think that’s the highest likelihood or the best possibility, but he’s going to be ready for that,” Kapler said.
One card Kapler could play is bringing either Logan Webb or Kevin Gausman into a game on short rest. Webb last pitched on Oct. 8, and Gausman the day after. There’s also extra built-in rest days in the playoffs.
Madison Bumgarner famously pitched five shutout innings out of relief on two days rest in the 2014 World Series, but not every pitcher is Madison Bumgarner. Every pitcher’s body responds differently. Kapler said the short-rest start fad has had mixed results, and the data is inconclusive.
When asked directly if SF has canceled any bullpen sessions for Gausman or Webb to keep their arms fresh, Kapler gave a non-answer (“something that we continue to discuss”).
Kapler even kept open the possibility of a full-fledged bullpen game — something SF got used to in September when both Johnny Cueto and Wood were unavailable.
“I just maintain that everything’s on the table,” Kapler said. “I think it makes a lot of sense for us to be prepared in many different ways, and one of those ways is to think about guys who haven’t had as much rest as they normally would, but they’re always possibilities. And also like obviously strategically we want to share some, not too much, right?”
The ambiguity is by design, both for Roberts and Kapler. Whether or not all options could truly be in play, that’s what each manager wants the other side to think.