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Dodgers NLDS: Corey Knebel Gets the Start in Game 5



The Dodgers were supposed to be going with Julio Urias to start Game 5. Coming off of regular rest, Julio was going to be the guy that Dave Roberts went to in the series-deciding game. But it sounds like Doc is getting a little spicy with his decisions. 

The Dodgers announced today that Corey Knebel would be starting the game as the opener. He has appeared in 2 playoff games so far and tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless work. Doc has also gone to him in pretty high-leverage situations, especially in the Wild Card Game. 

The decision probably comes down to a matchup basis for Doc. The run of hitters expected to be at the top of the Giants order might be guys that Roberts wants Julio to avoid. He also needs to treat every inning like it is high-leverage in an elimination game, especially early on. 

Dodgers Related: Another Big Game for Julio Urias

For the moment, Julio is still expected to come on in relief of Knebel. There are no indications that the Dodgers have changed up those plans or that there is something wrong with Urias leading into Game 5. 

Knebel will start things off but expect the Dodgers bullpen to be heavily involved regardless. Doc needs to keep his guys out of trouble and give the offense a chance. 

BREAKING: Corey Knebel to Start NLDS Game 5, How Dodgers Get to Logan Webb, How LA Will Use Urias!

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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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    • Why does DR have to run amok like this? Yes, Knebel could open and do OK, but Urias is fully rested and should come into the game in a normal starters preparation and routine. The bullpen has looked very good in the traditional relief mode. Why fix it , if it isn’t broken?

  1. Wow! Hope it doesn’t backfire! Knebel’s not used to pitching early in games, nor knowing he’s starting a game (or even if or when he’ll enter a game). We’re dealing with humans here, not robots. Either a genius move, or over-thinking it (if it backfires). Either way, they’ll be writing about this forever, especially if it backfires.

    GO DODGERS!!

  2. If that’s the case I kind of like it. It would force Kapler to think about his right handers starting against urias. I’m not worried about Urias basically coming in around the 2nd or 3rd inning because he’s been there done that. Question is, would the pressure be too much for Knebel? Drrrrrrr has pulled these fauci moves before though, decoying, trying for the element of surprise…It’s what he does, even surprises all of us here with plenty of head scratchers. That’s DRRRR for ya!! Go Dodgers!!!

  3. This an epic gamble on D.Roberts part. He is opening himself up for some super, extra large criticism if his “starters” get ripped and Urias comes into an essentially lost game. I don’t like playing cute games when going home for the rest of the year is one of the end results. I would start Urias without any doubts and use my bullpen as it was intended in a deciding game. Just me.

      • Roberts postseason record 41-29 .586
        Alston postseason record 23-21 .523
        Lasorda postseason record 31-30 .508

        This one is tough, lol

          • Bum4ever, the stuntman! Mickey “Mantle” Hatcher lol! Thank you for pointing that out! All he did was take 20 something game winner Dave Stewart deep in the first inning of game 1!

          • DF4L … Hatcher ran around the bases so fast that Vin Scully said he ran like he was afraid someone would take the HR away from him. He also hit a 2 run HR in the first inning of game 5 which shows how some guys meet the moment.
            But my point was Lasorda won in ’88 with great pitching and a spring training “B” squad lineup. I get you’re fan of Roberts but to compare him to Lasorda is like comparing Max Muncy to Harmen Killebrew. Different eras, different technology available.

          • Bum4ever, you are so right. Nearly impossible to compare across era’s. Some things do translate like BA and slugging, while others do not. The addition of the WC will skew postseason records for certain.

    • “He is opening himself up for some super, extra large criticism ”

      Not from his bosses. You KNOW they have approved this move.

    • Look there are arguments for and against this move. Only the outcome will decide if it was successful or not. Unfortunately that’s the beauty of hindsight. Ahead of time you just don’t know. This is not some last minute decision. This has been well thought out ahead of time.

      On other baseball news, apparently Cards manager Mike Schildt is out. No details. Phil Nevin, Yankees 3B Coach, is also out. Guess sending Judge home from first with a shot off the monster at Fenway in the WC game down 3-1 wasn’t the right call after all. Might have influenced Dino Ebell’s decision to not send Belli home from 3rd when Mookie’s shot in the 6 hole sneaked under Crawford glove and into left.

  4. I like it. The Giants will have some lineup issues to begin the game. They start “righties” at bat thinking they were facing Urias and will keep that lineup knowing they are at a disadvantage early in the game. It is all about getting 27 outs. Hats off to Dodger Management making the first chess move.

    • I have a lot of confidence in Urias. Not exactly sure how I am feeling about this… but… I kind of like the element of surprise. I mean none of us saw this coming. Hopefully, it throws Kapler and his Giants off a bit, too. Honestly, I am not so worried about our pitching but instead I’m anxious about what Dodgers’ offense shows up tonight. During this series, the Dodgers have more runs, so we are perfectly capable of producing tonight…yes, against Webb… and we must do so early. Make Webb uncomfortable and affect his mental game by base runners and early scoring. If this happens, I believe that tonight’s game is ours. Let’s Go Dodgers!!! Repeat LA!!!!

      • Last night’s game was the Dodgers and there was some redemption and poetic justice thrown in for good measure. Roberts strategy worked. The Giants power and home run hitters, for the most part, were held back. Mookie completely showed up. Most of our offense was patient at the plate (regardless of outcome), and Webb and Doval were visibly uncomfortable with base runners. Bellinger’s RBI single brought Turner home for the run that would ultimately win the game. Oh, and the baseball universe seems to have corrected itself after that “Ruf check swing” when Flores struckout. Game over and great to see a Dodgers’ celebration at Oracle Park. REPEAT LA!!!!!

  5. All I can say is WOW. Never would have seen that one coming. Knebel as everyone in the pen has been great. He’s done this before. He used to be the Milwaukee Brewer’s closer before Josh Hader. If this is what they’ve decided I’m fine with it. It’s all about what you think gives you the best shot to win one game.

    Let’s go Dodgers!!!

  6. DR has been at the cans of Red Bull early. Might be a night of impulsive pitching changes, wasted pinch hitters and nobody left for extra innings. I hope not.

  7. Question is. Will the Giant offense show up. It has not, this series.
    They are due, no matter who LA to throws to them.

    • Robby, the Giants have been the luckiest team in baseball history! I’ve seen probably at least 40 of their games (if not more). The amount of flukey things that have contributed to their success is astronomical. They have done with smoke and mirrors all season. Tonight the smoke clears!

      Let’s go Dodgers!

      • I concur, Dodgerfan4life. My spouse is a Giants’ fan and I have been watching them play for years. This year, the Giants’ performance has been absolutely…amazing…to say the least, and I am not just talking about the flukes that contributed to their wins. You have veteran Giants’ playing better than they ever have in their career and seemingly always coming up clutch. I want a Dodgers’ win and the smoke to simultaneously clear tonight, too. Go Dodgers!

  8. What a bone headed decision He all but handed the game to SF without throwing a pitch. Guess there is no point having a well rested 20 game winner on the team I want some of what he is taking so I leave the real world

    • Mark, I completely disagree! It’s exactly the opposite. Dodgers have already announced their lineup. It’s only a few hours short of game time and the Giants still don’t have their lineup out. They are in scramble mode. Kapler is already behind the 8-ball and he knows it. He will run out of bench players well before DR runs out of arms! An absolutely brilliant move!

      • Roberts called Kapler Wednesday night to tell him Knebel would start. Kapler had 24 hours to plan.

        • Bum4ever, ya I heard that too. But I’m not buying it. Why would Kapler wait until 90 minutes before game time to announce his lineup when he went on record after game 4’s loss saying there would be “no surprises” in their expected lineup vs the lefty Urias??? Hmmm? Doesn’t pass the smell test for me anyways.

    • Mark, you and I need to take the same drug. I moved to Arizona last December but I hear NewScum has basically made drugs legal like the “$950 Free Goods Through Legal Shoplifting” mandate. I am dumbfounded by this Robert’s decision. There must be an alternate world someplace.

  9. The Dodgers advancing in this series or the next is all based on the offense no matter how well the pitching is as we’ve witnessed all too often this season.

  10. Mike Schilt is now available – we should hire a real MLB manager and get rid of this ridiculous clown that has managed to sabotage his own team in 7 out of the last 8 years. Last years WSlight win meant nothing in a 60 game season that was not MLB.

    • Really?!? You don’t think that had the Rays won, or any other team for that matter, their fans would not be wearing a World Series hat?!?

      • Beth, excellent point! Or like the Houston Cheaters still wearing their WS rings!!!!! The ones they STOLE from the Dodgers. BTW I would feel the same way about that if it happened to the hated Giants!

    • Anyone believing the 2020 championship meant nothing holds a completely indefensible position. The team won more playoff games than any World Series winner in MLB history. Do you think the team would not have won the division in 162 games?

  11. I assume that you’ll be back here later tonight to confess that you were wrong when this strategy works out. So far, all of you D.R. haters have been pretty silent this post-season. (Talking 2 U too “PaulDodgerFan1965”) Great managerial moves so far this post-season… isn’t it about time that you admitted it???

  12. All I can say is I’d hate to think of what may take place if this move backfires on Roberts and Co. Some in media look at this pitching change as over thinking here. WSS.

  13. Do you really think that Corey and Julio did not know about this change until today?? Don’t you, maybe, just maybe, think that they have known, a least since their last winning game, so that maybe, just maybe, the two are very well prepared for this exciting adventure in baseball. DODGER BASEBALL, that is!!!

  14. This is an unbelievable decision on Robert’s part. Urias has been fantastic, was mentally poised to start and this will only mess with his confidence and aggression when he does take the mound. Why screw around with the staring lineup now? Absolutely insane. Roberts must be hanging around Biden too much.

    • Richard, this decision was a GROUP decision. The analytics department, the front office and Roberts all got together on this decision. Roberts will be the one tagged with the success or failure, unfortunately that’s just the nature of the business. Just ask Mike Schildt.

    • It was a team decision. Even the players were involved. Management agreed to hit the kill switch if any player objected. There’s a great article at the Athletic that explains the decision process in detail.

      • Bum4ever, nice find. The thing I found so funny was all the ESPN writers were picking the Giants, conversely all the Giants’ writers (5 of them) all picked the Dodgers lol. Who is doing the hiring at ESPN??

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