The defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers just made a surprising pitching announcement before tonight’s do-or-die NLDS Game 5.
Instead of left-handed 20-game winner Julio Urias getting the start, it will be righty reliever Corey Knebel opening the game against the San Francisco Giants, with Urias to follow. Knebel appeared in 27 games for the Dodgers this season, including four as an opener.
One of those opener appearances came against the Giants on September 3. Knebel threw two shutout innings in a 3-2 loss.
For the season Knebel posted a 4-0 record with a 2.45 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 25.2 innings.
Corey Knebel will start Game 5 tonight.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 14, 2021
By holding their ace out at the start, the Dodgers force the Giants to be a little strategic in their lineup configuration.
Do they load up with righties to go against the lefty standout Urias once he comes in, but leave themselves susceptible to less favorable matchups against Knebel in the first couple of innings?
Or do the Giants go lefty-heavy and try to jump Knebel early, but then either give Urias the favorable platoon matchups once he enters or burn some righty pinch-hitters in the middle innings?
If we had to guess, they’ll go with the first option. Either way, it will be fascinating to watch this winner-take-all showdown between these arch-rivals who were the two best teams in baseball this year.
Dodgers-Giants will start at 9:07 p.m. ET tonight on TBS.