Before Game 5 of the National League Division Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers made the decision to start Corey Knebel against the San Francisco Giants, which put Julio Urias in the bullpen and to follow at some point.
Urías has raised the bar for expectations this season, so the decision to not let him start created some controversy. However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was confident Urias could handle it and believes the decision was a testament to his ability and maturity.
“He is the one guy, and it’s not taking away. It actually would be the biggest compliment to Julio because, not taking away from any of our other starters, but they’re very set and fixed in their ways,” Roberts said.
“Where Julio, because of what we’ve done with him and how we’ve navigated him throughout his career up to this point, he’s had to be flexible and still perform, and he’s done that. So I think that having that latitude with him, and his buy-in, is everything and it just speaks to his maturity as a Major League ballplayer.”
Roberts also acknowledged Urias “without a doubt” earned the right to start Game 5, but the organization collectively decided utilizing an opener would be the best path to winning.
“I think if you’re looking at the player, the person, feather in his cap, all that kind of stuff, he does deserve it. Do I want that for him? Absolutely,” Roberts said. “I think that we have to take the next secondary look and figure out ultimately what gives us the best chance to win the game.
“And it’s not saying he’s not going to pitch. I expect him to pitch a lot. And the only thing Julio cares about is winning the ball game. That’s what people are going to remember, not who started the game, in my opinion.
“So I think that if that is our single overall aligned philosophy and goal. This is the way that we feel is the best, and having him go deep in the game is also a good thing for us too.”
The decision to start Knebel was based only on matchups as it forced the Giants’ to lose the platoon advantages either early or late in the game. The Dodgers also had the added benefit of pinch-hitting for the pitcher spot the first time it came up.
“I think it’s more of appreciating in one game what we feel gives us the best chance to win. Corey’s a guy that I expected to pitch, and so just kind of changing up when he pitches is part of it,” Roberts said.
“The Giants have been a tremendous ballclub all year, and just speaking to the offensive side, they have been the best team in baseball as far as getting matchup advantages, platoon advantages.
“This allows us to get a neutral pitcher who’s done it, who’s had success, who’s all-in on doing it, and potentially giving us some matchups going forward throughout the game. Talked to Julio, he’s all-in on doing it. He’s done it in the past, last year in particular, where he thrived. And so when you talk with those two players and just feeling that, again, it gives us the best chance to win a ball game, and he’s done it before.”
Betts sets Dodgers postseason record
Betts went 4-for-4 in the thrilling victory and became the first Dodgers player to record at least four hits in a winner-take-all postseason game.
“Obviously super important,” he said of being able to set the table.
In addition to setting a new Dodgers postseason record, Betts became the first player with at least four hits and one stolen base in a winner-take-all playoff game since George Brett in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.
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