The Los Angeles Dodgers were seemingly all set to put the ball in Julio Urias’ hands for the decisive Game 5 on Thursday night, but that plan has changed a few hours prior to the game. Los Angeles will now roll with opener Corey Knebel, who will attempt to navigate the first inning before Urias comes in.
As our own Ben Fawkes has been tweeting throughout the series, the Dodgers are on some kind of run in terms of closing as the favorite. Their streak of 93 straight games looks to be in serious jeopardy tonight, as the markets have swung to the Giants as the favorite with the Knebel announcement.
The Dodgers have been favored in 282 of their past 286 games, but this looks like one that could go in the underdog column.
Knebel had solid numbers during the regular season in 27 appearances with a 2.45 ERA and a 2.90 FIP. He was the opener four times for the Dodgers and allowed one run on six hits in 5.2 innings of work. Two of those starts were multi-inning appearances, so it isn’t a guarantee that that Dodgers go to Urias right away in the second inning. He worked a scoreless inning with a couple of strikeouts in Game 2 while pitching with a 6-2 lead. He also struck out the only batter he faced in the Wild Card Game against the Cardinals.
Urias, who allowed one run on three hits in five innings during Game 2, is left-handed and Knebel is right-handed, so the Dodgers are playing the matchups with a sprinkle of gamesmanship added in. Urias had a 2.96 ERA with a 3.13 FIP during the regular season over his 185.2 innings.
So far, the betting markets don’t love the move, but the line has not moved that much, given that Urias is still expected to come in rather early. The Giants are still going with Logan Webb, who was dominant in Game 1 and had a fine season of his own a 3.03 ERA and a 2.72 FIP in 148.1 innings of work.
The winner will face the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS beginning Saturday.