SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Julio Urías ultimately won’t start for the Dodgers in Game 5 of their NL Division series on Thursday night against the Giants, giving Los Angeles a left-hander out of the box that has been tough on left-handed hitters .
Right-hander Corey Knebel will open the game instead for the defending World Series champions against the NL West-winning Giants, who beat Los Angeles on the final day of the regular season with 107 wins, the best in the franchise, against 106. of the Dodgers.
Knebel was expected to be used anyway, so Dodgers manager Dave Roberts just made the strategic decision to switch when the right-hander threw, and his experience counted too.
“Why we did it, I think it’s more appreciating in a game which gives us the best chance of winning,” said Roberts.
Urías – the 20-game winner who claimed a win in Game 2 of the series at Oracle Park last week – could face the Giants based on clashes at any time. It could also shake the Giants’ familiarity with him.
“We want to be ready for anything. We don’t want to be surprised by anything, ”Giants manager Gabe Kapler said.
Roberts said Urias was “full” on this route when they spoke, noting that the left-hander is likely to throw a key stretch yet.
Roberts said Urias is the only player in his rotation who can handle a major change in plans like this and that the decision was made by a group comprising the two pitchers involved.
“The only thing Julio cares about is winning the game,” said Roberts, noting that there is a potential downside to the move given that “Corey never started a playoff game.”
Kapler received a courtesy text from Roberts on Wednesday night to inform him of the change – “we have this good quality relationship that we will communicate on things like this,” Kapler said.
Tommy La Stella was expected to start at second goal against Knebel instead of Donovan Solano, depending on how La Stella’s pre-game training will test a tight left Achilles tendon.
“It doesn’t matter at this point. We’ve seen all the pitchers they have, ”said Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. “I’m sure tactically speaking, there has probably been some thinking and some changes on Kap’s side, on the managerial side.”
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