The Los Angeles Dodgers were widely expected to name 20-game winner Julio Urias their starting pitcher for Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday night, but they have decided to go with a much different approach.
Corey Knebel, who has never started a postseason game in his career, will be on the mound to start the game against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers will use him as an opener. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times noted, Knebel opened four games for the Dodgers during the regular season. One of those was on Sept. 3 against the Giants.
Knebel opened four games for the Dodgers this season, including a Sept. 3 game in San Francisco in which he threw two scoreless innings.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 14, 2021
The decision came as a shock and is sure to be heavily criticized if it does not work out. Urias, who went 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA during the regular season, seemed like the obvious choice to start Game 5. He will likely come on to pitch after Knebel opens the game. Urias has also been lights out in the postseason.
Julio Urias in his last seven games in the postseason:
4 earned runs
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 14, 2021
The goal for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is probably to get the Giants to burn through some of their lineup depth early in the game. By opening the game with a right-hander and then switching to the left-handed Urias, the Dodgers are hoping to force San Francisco into making more changes that they would like early in the game.
Time will tell if the strategy pays off, but you can understand why many feel the Dodgers are overthinking things.