LOS ANGELES, CA (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Dodgers are preparing for a winner-take-all Game 5 against division rivals in the San Francisco Giants tonight in the NLDS.
Early reports had suggested that left-hander Julio Urias would be starting the game, especially after his winning performance in Game 2 of the series, where he pitched five innings, allowing just one run, while striking out five.
The Dodgers’ Twitter announced that there would be a pitching change going into this d0-or-die game, starting relief pitcher Corey Knebel in Urias’ place.
Corey Knebel will start Game 5 tonight.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 14, 2021
All signs point to this being an “opener” start for Knebel, who’s line of work rarely sees him pitch more than one or two innings in any appearance. An opener is a utility used by a manager to face an opponent’s lineup in the first inning, the inning that traditionally sees more runs scored than any other inning in baseball. It’s a strategic move that prevents an opponent from stacking their lineup against a certain-handed pitcher, in the hopes of jumping to an early lead.
This season, Knebel sports a 2.45 ERA with 30 punchouts in 25.2 innings pitched. He’s made appearances in two games for the Dodgers this postseason, and has yet to allow anyone on base.
Urias, who finished the season with a league-high 20 wins, will be used in any role the team sees fit for Game 5, most likely coming in after one or two innings.
Starting against the Dodgers this evening will be Logan Webb, who dazzled in his Game 1 start, going 7.2 innings, striking out 10 while allowing just five hits and no runs.
The series returns to San Francisco tonight for a matchup between the top two teams in the league. Whichever team wins moves on to the NLCS where they will face the Atlanta Braves in a best-of-seven series. Game 5 starts at 6:07PM PT and is airing on TBS.