‘Gamesmanship’? Dodgers undecided about starter vs. Giants

The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants cuts so deep that even the slightest of advantages are pursued.

Before the deciding Game 5 of last year’s National League Division Series between the teams, the Dodgers announced they were switching their starter from left-hander Julio Urias to an opener in right-hander Corey Knebel.

But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he sent a text to Giants manager Gabe Kapler the evening before the change was announced. Still, it was an eye-opening decision not to start a 20-game winner.

Again, the Dodgers have uncertain pitching plans against the Giants, not naming a starter for Wednesday night’s game between the teams in Los Angeles. The Dodgers were deciding between right-hander Tony Gonsolin or going with a bullpen game.

“You can say it’s gamesmanship, but I just don’t think that we’re dead set on who we want to start (Wednesday),” Roberts said.

Gonsolin (1-0, 1.59 ERA) is off to a strong start, but he is 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three regular-season appearances (two starts) against San Francisco. He did not face the Giants in last season’s playoffs.

“There’s a couple thoughts,” Roberts said before the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the Giants on Tuesday. “Some of it is dependent on how (Tuesday) goes. Some of it is not really contingent on how (Tuesday) goes. I think we’re going to see how it goes and then figure out how we’re going to navigate (Wednesday).”

The Giants are set on starting former Dodger Alex Wood (2-1, 4.19). Wood pitched with the Dodgers in five of six seasons before joining the Giants last season and going 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in three starts against Los Angeles in 2021.

Wood, a left-hander, also started Game 3 of last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers and went 4 2/3 scoreless innings with a no-decision in a 1-0 San Francisco victory.

Wood had the worst of his four starts this season on Friday at home against the Washington Nationals, when he gave up five runs on eight hits over five innings while taking the loss.

“I just didn’t command the ball as good as I have been,” Wood said. “Pretty much every ball they put in play was a hit. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.”

Tuesday’s first game of the season between the clubs was a tight, well-pitched affair. Los Angeles’ Chris Taylor was the difference maker, with a two-run single in the second inning, while the starters — Urias for the Dodgers and Carlos Rodon for the Giants — combined to give up just seven hits.

The Giants should get closer to full strength Wednesday. Outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. (knee) played in a rehab game Tuesday and is expected to join the Giants in Los Angeles, as is Mike Yastrzemski (COVID-19 list).

San Francisco’s Joc Pederson (groin) pinch-hit on Tuesday, while infielders Evan Longoria (finger) and Tommy La Stella (Achilles) also had rehab-game appearances for Sacramento.

“It’s always nice to have a full lineup, a full roster, (and) there are very few teams around baseball who have that luxury all the time,” Kapler said. “It’s not a surprise that we have struggled a little bit without some of our best guys.”

–Field Level Media