The Los Angeles Dodgers have made a surprising decision ahead of their Game 5 matchup with the San Francisco Giants.
Relief pitcher Corey Knebel will get the start for L.A.
Corey Knebel will start Game 5 tonight.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 14, 2021
Speculation amongst folks on Twitter is that Knebel will likely serve as an “opener” before handing things over to Julio Urias for the bulk of the game.
Well, that is a change. Knebel will open the game. Would presumably leave Urías available to pitch the bulk. Roberts has his pregame session later today. https://t.co/p2nwsFKKFR
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) October 14, 2021
Regardless, it’s still an interesting development.
Assuming the Dodgers do indeed roll with a Knebel/Urias combo, here’s a little preview of what to expect from both guys.
What To Know About Knebel
This won’t be Knebel’s first time serving as an opener this season.
During the regular season, he technically made four “starts,” all of which were two innings or shorter in length.
The righty had a really good regular season, pitching to a 2.45 ERA, 2.90 FIP, and 0.94 WHIP over 27 appearances.
This was his first regular season in a Dodgers uniform, and he vastly exceeded expectations.
In the 2021 playoffs, he has made two appearances so far — both out of the bullpen.
Both outings were clean.
So far, he has 1.1 innings of scoreless work under his belt this postseason.
Including past years, the 29-year-old has an outstanding playoff track record.
He has a career ERA of 0.79 and FIP of 1.22 over 11 career postseason outings.
The one-time All-Star seemingly isn’t afraid of big stages, and he’ll look to maintain that trend in Game 5.
What To Know About Urias
Urias was baseball’s only 20-game winner in the regular season.
Although pitcher wins generally aren’t viewed as a meaningful stat in this era, there’s no doubt that winning 20 games is a nice accomplishment.
Urias pitched to a 2.96 ERA, 3.13 FIP, and 1.02 WHIP over 32 starts in the regular season.
He fanned 195 batters in 185.2 innings.
Julio Urías, Nasty 88mph Changeup…and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/DnoUn7rfDG
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 4, 2021
The lefty finished with a WAR of 4.7, giving him the best mark of his career so far.
He ended the regular season on a tear, pitching to a tiny 1.71 ERA over his final 13 starts.
In fact, over his final 11 starts of the regular season, the Dodgers went 11-0.
If that’s any indication of what’s going to happen in Thursday night’s Game 5, then L.A. probably likes its chances.
Urias has made one start in the 2021 playoffs so far.
It came in Game 2 of this NLDS with San Francisco.
The results were good, as he tossed five innings of one-run ball and helped the Dodgers get a massive win.
For a 25-year-old, he has a lot of postseason experience under his belt.
He has already made 19 career playoff appearances (four of which were starts), and he owns a 2.68 ERA.
That’s a really promising sign for L.A.
With everything on the line tonight, the Dodgers are going to need Urias to keep his momentum rolling.
Needless to say, the stakes are high going into Game 5.
Neither the Dodgers nor Giants deserve to see their seasons end in the NLDS, but for one of these clubs, that’s about to happen.
L.A. is putting a lot of faith in Knebel and Urias.
Will it pay off?
We’ll find out.