Dodgers will use opener, not Julio Urías vs. Giants
Posted On October 15, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO – In perhaps the biggest game in the 131-year history of the Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants rivalry, the Dodgers have decided to rely on analysis rather than tradition, by not starting the 20 game winner in favor of a reliever as an opener.
The Dodgers start veteran reliever Corey Knebel Thursday night in their Game 5 winner of the National League Division series instead of Julio Urias, creating a heard stir in the baseball world.
“I wouldn’t say it’s riskier,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, “I think what it does is it paves the way for criticism. But I think it doesn’t. can’t do a job for fear of failure or potential criticism.I think you have to do your job given that what you think is the best way to win the game.
“It doesn’t mean it’s riskier, it’s different. But that opens the door to potential criticism, which I imagine already exists. ”
The Dodgers were castigated by former players, baseball executives and scouts, saying the Dodgers were trying to reinvent the wheel with their decision.
24-year-old Urias is after all a 20-game winner. He’s won more games than any baseball pitcher this season. In his last seven playoff games, he’s produced a 1.29 ERA, striking out 34 batters in 28 innings.
Now he’s being asked to change his routine, sit in the reliever pen and step into the game at a strategic time when the clashes are in the Dodgers’ favor.
“We brought it up (Wednesday) and kind of exposed it (to Urias), said Roberts.“ We think it’s not just about Julio. I think he’s smart enough to understand that it’s about other guys, other pitchers, who are going to take baseball which actually gives him a better chance at playing.
“So I think the first look is to say it’s a light on Julio, which is actually a compliment for him to be able to adjust, and also allow other guys to have the best.” opportunity to drop out. He completely understood the kind of thinking behind it. ”
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Roberts, who led the Dodgers to six playoff spots, three pennants and a World Series title, made sure to make it clear that this was an organizational decision – “From the top of the organization to the top. drop ”- and he only had one vote on the matter. It came from the analysis department, trying to downplay the Giants’ squad system that has worked all season, leading them to a franchise record of 107 regular season wins.
“They were the best team in baseball when it came to game perks, field perks,” Roberts said. “It allows us to have a neutral pitcher who has done it, who has been successful, who is all about doing it and potentially gives us clashes in the future throughout the game. … You have to try to get all the advantages, to gain all the possible margins, if that makes sense.
“The feeling is that it just gives us the best chance of winning a ball game.”
Admittedly, it wasn’t all about the game, as the Milwaukee Brewers tried in Game 6 of the 2018 NLCS by casting Wade Miley. Roberts texted Giants manager Gabe Kapler on Wednesday night to let him know that Knebel is entering his fifth of the season as an opener. If they had chosen, they could have waited until the roster cards were traded at home plate, taking the Giants by surprise and using a mostly right-handed versus right-handed roster. Instead, it allowed the Giants to adapt.
“It’s understandable,” Kapler said of the decision, “I don’t think it’s unexpected. Definitely changes the way we thought about today’s game, but nothing fancy.”
Well, no one remembers Walter Alston asking Sandy Koufax to come into the game after an opener, or anyone who would dare to suggest to Juan Marichal that an opener would start one of his games, but this are different times.
“There’s a downside to him starting if he starts the game because you might be watching familiarity,” Roberts said. “He just faced this team five days ago. These guys stack and prepare the games they want.
“There is a downside to proceeding the way we have chosen. Corey has never started a playoff game. But I think at the end of the day we are confident that both players can handle this and we expect him to go out there and perform and we think in one game, with the familiarity of both clubs , that gives us the best chance of winning tonight.
Win and the Dodgers travel to Atlanta to play the NLCS opener on Saturday. Lose it, and they’re home for a terribly long winter, with a lot of questions to answer.
“Anything can turn the momentum or win the game or lose the game,” said Roberts. “The bottom line is that at the end of the day we still have to run. We have to make pitches. We have to catch baseball. And we have to take good hitters. And whichever team does the best, they’ll win the game. ”
What happens to be the biggest in Dodgers-Giants history, in the words of Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully.
“Now,” said Roberts, “I feel the pressure. Damn it, Vin. ”