The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. The Southern-California-based team lost the first game on Monday and now have to deal with another major issue. Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw will miss Tuesday's game due to back spasms.
The Dodgers made the announcement on Tuesday, roughly six hours prior to the first pitch. The team will rely on a rookie in Tony Gonsolin during a pivotal playoff battle. According to ESPN, Tuesday is the first time that Kershaw has dealt with back issues since the start of the season. He missed Opening Day and spent 10 days on the injured list but ultimately returned to form.
While Kershaw has been a standout pitcher for the Dodgers during the shortened 2020 season, Gonsolin has also shined during his rookie season. He has posted a 6.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just over 46 innings, along with a 2.31 ERA (Earned Runs Average). Gonsolin is one of the multiple rookies in contention for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
"Not having Peyton Kershaw in the playoffs is a blessing. Dodgers have a chance now," one person commented on Twitter after hearing that the star pitcher would miss Tuesday's game. Multiple fans responded and expressed several different opinions about the situation. Some said that the Dodgers are "doomed" and that they would use the injury as an excuse for missing the World Series. Others, however, said that they believe in Gonsolin and think that he can shine under considerable pressure.
With Gonsolin taking over on Tuesday for the injured Kershaw, the Dodgers will have to adjust the pitching schedule for the upcoming games. According to ESPN, Julio Urias will likely start Game 3 against the Braves. One option for Game 4 and beyond is Dustin May, but he faced eight batters during Monday's 5-1 loss.
If the Dodgers struggle without Kershaw in the lineup and fall into an 0-2 hole, they will face an even bigger challenge against the Braves. Continued losses will lead to the Dodgers missing the World Series while the Braves remain in contention for the championship. The future opponent remains unclear considering that the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros are in the middle of the American League Championship Series. The Rays currently have a 2-0 lead.
When the World Series begins, the American League and National League champions will face off — potentially in front of fans. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred previously told reporters that he plans on having limited capacity for the World Series in Texas. "We are pressing ahead to have fans in Texas," Manfred said. "One of the most important things to our game is the presence of fans — starting down the path of having fans in stadiums, and in a safe and risk-free environment, is very, very important to our game."