SAN FRANCISCO – The Dodgers’ Julio Ureus is almost as established as a starting pitcher can be. He made 32 starts this season without respite, and went 20–3 with a 2.96 ERA, then started and defeated the Giants in Game 2 of this Division Series.
Yet his team decided – “under the tipsy top of the Dodgers organization,” said manager Dave Roberts – that Uriah, 25, was not the best choice to start the winner-take-all Game 5. They will go together. Opener, Corey Nebel.
“It doesn’t mean it’s risky, it’s different,” said Roberts, who texted Giants manager Gabe Kapler last night to tell him. “But it is open to potential criticism, which I imagine is already out there.”
He is right about it; It certainly feels like a classic case of a very smart outfit in itself. Roberts stated that Uriah was the only starter he would use as such, based on Uriah’s track record of being resilient—he’s come off the bullpen for 15 of his later 19 careers, and won the NLCS and The World. The series has been cancelled. Last time.
A former All-Star with Milwaukee, Nebel performed well in four attempts as an opener, earning a run in five and two-thirds innings. He is right and Urius is lefty.
“The Giants have been a tremendous ball club all year round, and speaking from the offensive side, they’ve been the best team in baseball, as far as matchup advantages, platoon advantages,” Roberts said. Said strategy should help. Potentially giving us some matchups to look forward to throughout the game. “
The front office of Roberts and the Dodgers knows their team better than any fan or member of the news media. But it’s still annoying to watch, and I asked Roberts about the downside of introducing urea in general.
“If he has to start the game, there’s a downside to starting him, because you can see the familiar,” Roberts said. “They just faced this team five days ago. They’re going to stack up and set up the matchups they want.
“There’s a downside to doing it the way we’ve chosen to do it. Corey never started a playoff game. But I think, ultimately, we believe both players can handle it.
So there you have it. Related note: Today is the 56th anniversary of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, when another Dodgers lefty, Sandy Cofax, debuted against the Minnesota Twins. Koufax finished nine innings on two days’ rest.
Baseball is extremely lucrative, perhaps more so today than ever before. But son how times have changed.