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Dodgers go with surprise starter for Game 5

© Robert Hanashiro | 2021 Oct 6

Right-handed pitcher Corey Knebel, not Julio Urías, will start Game 5 of the NLDS for the Dodgers.

The team announced the change Thursday morning, backtracking manager Dave Roberts’ previous announcement of Urías.

On the season, Knebel has recorded a 2.45 ERA in 25.1 innings pitched. He’s opened four games, allowing one earned run across 5.2 innings. Knebel has actually posted reverse splits, with left-handed hitters struggling more against him in his career. Lefties hit .187 against him, while righties slash .237/.314/.402.

The 29-year-old is a two-pitch hurler, featuring a four-seam fastball and a curveball. His fastball averages 96.3 mph, in the 88th percentile of velocity. Batters are hitting .167 against the pitch in 2021.

Against the Giants, Knebel has thrown three scoreless innings, including a perfect seventh inning in Game 2 and one start during the regular season.

Knebel has pitched two innings just once in 2021, making him an opener. Urías will likely take over for him opposite Logan Webb. Roberts has said it’s “highly unlikely” LA will use Max Scherzer on two days’ rest, though SF manager Gabe Kapler said they always need to prepare for every possible scenario.

San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday he plans to use his normal platoon lineup against Urías, indicating an order featuring right-handed hitters like Darin Ruf, Wilmer Flores, Donovan Solano and Austin Slater.

With Knebel as an opener, lineup configuration becomes more difficult.

The switch-up is the latest form of managerial gamesmanship in a series that saw both skippers decline to announce Game 4 starters until the last second. With both teams at 109 wins including playoffs, any edge — real or perceived — matters. Whoever earns win No. 110 advances to play the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, while the loser’s season ends abruptly.

 

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