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Dodgers News: Corey Knebel Starting Was Not Just a Dave Roberts Decision



The Dodgers will not be going with Julio Urias to start Game 5 of the National League Division Series. After days building up to Julio taking the ball on normal rest, the team pivoted and chose to open with Corey Knebel. 

That brought a lot of confusion and backlash from Dodgers fans online. It was obviously a surprising move and one that the club gave no indication of in the days prior. But the numbers are there to support the decision, and it does make a lot of sense. 

But as it turns out, this was not just Dave Roberts’ decision. Starting Knebel over Julio came down to conversations in the front office as well as conversations with both of the players. Obviously. they were both very much on board

All the way from the tippy-top of the organization on down. It was a decision we made together.

The hope from the Dodgers seems to be putting pressure on Gabe Kapler to make some decisions at the top of the lineup. It also potentially stops the Giants from stacking big right-handed hitters that they would if there was a lefty starting. 

Dodgers Related: Doc Lays Out the Plan For Facing Logan Webb

But if Kapler still decides to go with the heavy right-handed contingent, that could also play into the Dodgers’ favor. Knebel matches up well against right-handed hitters, and Doc could potentially stack another righty reliever behind him if Kapler sticks with the lefty lineup. 

Regardless, just remember it was not entirely Dave’s decision. 

Dodgers NLDS Game 5 Preview: Making the Case for Optimism as the 2021 Season Hangs in the Balance

Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. I can understand the strategy. Knebel has been effective against the Giants and the Giants will likely set their line-up to go against a righty (or not and give Knebel more of an advantage). Then when (or if?) the Dodgers need to make a pitching change Urias is perfect and the Giants will need to probably make changes and deplete their line-up big time! Might be a deciding factor late in the game (I hope). GO DODGERS!

    • Should still be Mad Max. Starting pitchers will usually have a “side session” after two days off. This one inning relief appearance acted as that side session, so he should still be good to go on Saturday on full rest, his last start was on Monday.

  2. Why not use an opener for most games?

    13 pitches for Scherzer, probably not too much to interfere with his Saturday start.

  3. It worked and the Dodgers won. I would probably go with a bullpen game and then Scherzer on Sunday to give Buehler and Urias time to recoup.
    Knebel has a nasty curve and a high-velocity fastball with movement.
    Did you see the break on Treinen’s pitches? If you hit one of those it is luck…

  4. Ok folks, I’ve slept on it and here is my projected lineup for Saturday game 1 vs the Bravos. I’m expecting many of you to ask me if I’ve gone off the reservation ahead of time:

    RF Betts
    SS Seager
    C Smith
    1B Pujols
    2B Lux
    LF Pollock
    CF Bellinger
    3B Taylor
    P Scherzer

    Yes I’m benching both Trea and JT who are batting .136 and .050 for the postseason! Braves are starting Max Fried a lefty and we all know Tio Albert crushes lefties. And after JT booted Bryant’s grounder in the 9th which had me grabbing the phone to call 911 because my heart stopped, it’s the price he’s going to have to pay.

    Questions and comments are welcome. And yes Kirk, I’m still here!

    • Slumps are slumps until they’re not. Both JT and Trea will come around because they’re good and the team needs them to win. I don’t care if JT is 0 for 50 I’m not betting against him. Lux doesn’t get the start because Belli is so much better defensively and a LHP will face them in game 1.

      • Bum4ever, while I’m inclined to agree with you, part of this was just to get folks thinking differently.

      • Trea is a career .225 postseason hitter, at least JT is a career .277 postseason hitter with 13 postseason homers. I mean look what Bellinger has done this postseason after the god awful regular season he had. Nobody besides me saw that coming!

        • Dodgerfan: There are a few of us who have stood behind Cody this season. It was a shame to hear what some said about him this year. It is hard enough playing baseball at an elite level without the 4 serious injuries he dealt with. I wonder where all the bashers are now? Anyway, lets go Dodgers and heft that trophy on our shoulders!

        • Not true. I’ve been defending Belli all season (because of all the injuries) and I’m doing the same for JT now. I said with Muncy down, Belli’s the only one capable of stepping up to fill the void.

          • Wayne and Bum4ever, then please accept my humble apologies. I suppose it simply felt like I was the lone Bellinger supporter. It’s always easier to say in hindsight, a completely different thing to do when it’s not the popular mindset.

            And as for JT, I’d be more willing to give him a pass vs Trea given their respective past postseason performances. I sincerely hope they can turn the page and improve their current postseason struggles.

            I root for all the Dodgers, even if I’m disappointed by some.

      • Agreed. If a .150 season hitter can be convinced not to swing for the fences and hit some singles, we need to stick with the slumping 2021 batting champ.

  5. This is where not having Kershaw really hurts. Assuming the Dodgers go with Scherzer in game one, Sunday’s game is a choice between Buehler pitching on short rest or going with a Gonsolin/Bullpen game . That becomes an issue again if there is a game six.

  6. I have a suspicion that the front office influences EVERY Dodger line up…. I also wonder about decisions made during the game …

  7. This issue of Cody-bashing is interesting. Can anyone honestly say that the way he stood at the plate in the month or two prior to the last week of the season was encouraging? He appeared lost, stood with the bat on his shoulder and was ill-prepared for any decent pitch. What is interesting to me is just what occurred in those last 2-3 weeks. Was there an ultimatum given him to…adjust your approach or be benched? Did he experience an awakening on his own? Was there adequate healing time to help him correct his awful approach? No one is answering these questions ’cause we just don’t know…do we.

    • We DO know he’s not swinging for home runs but hitting singles/doubles and doing better.

      Something sunk in…for now. He’s had a good 6 games.

  8. Richard, Cody did not have a good regular season in 2020 either, but still hit the game winning HR in game 7 vs the Braves. He also had huge hits in the WS. As I write this, Kike Hernandez just goes deep once again in the postseason! Some guys are just built for October and others are not! It’s that simple.

    • And again!!! Dodger FO biggest blunder EVER! That’s now 12 postseason dingers! 8 in Dodger blue!

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