SAN FRANCISCO – Before Thursday’s game begins, the Dodgers have thrown a curveball to the Giants.
After initially naming left-hander Julio Urias at the start for Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants, the Dodgers announced at 11 a.m. Thursday that right-handed reliever Cory Nebel would start instead.
The announcement came as a surprise to a Giants team that plans to load up their lineup with a right-handed bat against left-handed Urias, who was only a 20-game winner in the Majors this season. .
The Dodgers did not reveal why he made the switch, but if he is healthy, it is likely that Urea will still play a key role in Thursday’s game. Nebel has served as an opener for Los Angeles four times this season, while Ureas has experience pitching in “bulk innings” roles from the bullpen early in his career.
Urea can still be counted on to throw over 90-to-100 pitches in winner-take-all Game 5, but the Giants now have to think more carefully about how to best build a lineup that a Must face right, not lefty, at the start of Thursday’s game.
The Dodgers’ strategy looks good as the Giants are now forced to decide whether to keep right-handed outfielders such as Austin Slater and Darin Roof in their lineup with the hope that Urea will enter the game early or make his own. Start hitting with the left hand. Outfielders like Lamonte Wade Jr. and Mike Yastrzemsky attempt to take an early lead against Nebel.
Regardless of how the Giants structure their lineup, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has ways to counter the approach. If the Giants start right-handed hitters like Slater and Roof, Roberts can bring right-handed relievers like Joe Kelly, Brusader Gretroll and Blake Trainen behind Nebel to maintain the matchup advantage, or he can turn to Urea Which will likely force the coupler. Quick replacement.
If the Giants start with left-handed hitters like Wade and Yastrzemsky, the Dodgers can counter by bringing in Urias, which will put Kapler in a tough spot. The decision to bring his right-handed bat off the bench is understandable, but it could also leave the Giants with less matchup flexibility in the late inning when the Dodgers turn to their top bullpen arms such as Trennan and Kenley Jensen.
The Dodgers’ decision to start Nebel could give the Giants an advantage in that the move could allow Kapler to play Tommy La Stella at bat leadoff and second base. La Stella is 3-for-8 with a run twice in the series, but has dealt with left Achilles soreness that has limited his speed at base and range on defense.
La Stella was unlikely to bat more than a one-to-two in Thursday’s game anyway, so the Giants would get him early whenever Roberts hit right-handed second baseman Donovan Solano to gain a platoon advantage against Nebel. can be included in the lineup. Converts to urea.