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How Could Dodgers Replace Tony Gonsolin In Rotation?

How Could Dodgers Replace Tony Gonsolin In Rotation?

The Dodgers were dealt some undesirable news last week when All-Star starter Tony Gonsolin rolled his left ankle during a pitcher-fielding practice session. He was diagnosed with a sprain and unable to put much weight on the leg for a few days.

Manager Dave Roberts told reporters yesterday that Gonsolin has again started throwing (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). He’s progressed to long toss from 120 feet but has yet to return to the mound. With Opening Day two weeks out, it seems increasingly likely he’ll require a stint on the 15-day injured list.

If that proves the case, the Dodgers will have to add someone to the season-opening rotation behind Julio UríasClayton KershawNoah Syndergaard and Dustin May. Los Angeles doesn’t have the luxury some clubs do of many built-in off days early in the year. They’re scheduled for games in 13 of the first 14 days and 24 of the initial 26 days of the regular season. Unless the club wants to cover some starts via bullpen games, they’ll need a fifth starter if Gonsolin isn’t available.

Likely Front Runners

Ryan Pepiot, 25, two minor league option years remaining

Pepiot seems the favorite for the job. He started seven of his first nine big league games last season, working to a 3.47 ERA over 36 1/3 innings. Pepiot struck out an above-average 26.3% of opponents but his 16.9% walk rate was untenable for a player hoping to stick in a rotation. He showed more serviceable control in the minors, walking 9.8% of batters faced with a lofty 30.9% strikeout rate and a 2.56 ERA in 91 1/3 frames for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

A former third-round pick, Pepiot has developed into one of the better pitching prospects in the sport. The Butler product has a wipeout changeup and plus spin on a fastball that averaged just under 94 MPH last season. Evaluators have expressed trepidation about his breaking ball and especially the consistency of his strike-throwing. Still, he’s an intriguing young pitcher with upper minors success who has shown a decent ability to miss bats early in his time at the big league level. He’s not a finished product but could be capable of providing the Dodgers with a few solid starts in a fill-in capacity.

Michael Grove, 26, two options remaining

A second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Grove overcame some early-career injury concerns to reach the majors last year. He started six of his first seven big league games, posting a 4.60 ERA through 29 1/3 frames. That came with a…

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