Corey Knebel Starts Game 5 of Dodgers vs. Giants NLDS: How Reliever’s Outing Compares to Other Debuts

Corey Knebel Starts Game 5 of Dodgers vs. Giants NLDS: How Reliever’s Outing Compares to Other Debuts article feature image
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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have tabbed reliever Corey Knebel as their opener for Thursday’s do-or-die Game 5 against the San Francisco Giants.

Left-hander Julio Urias is slated to follow suit and take a starter’s workload —  whenever that may be.

If it sounds like an unconventional approach, it’s because it is.

Knebel’s only the 15th player since 1969 to make his first career playoff start in a sudden-death game. The previous 14 compiled a sub-.500 mark of 6-8.

Pitchers Making 1st Ever Winner-Take-All Playoff Start

Year Pitcher Result
2020 Dane Dunning (White Sox) L, 4-6
2019 Sean Manaea (A’s) L, 1-5
2018 Kyle Freeland (Rockies) W, 2-1
2017 Jon Gray (Rockies) L, 8-11
2017 Luis Severino (Yankees) W, 8-4
2015 Jake Arrieta (Cubs) W, 4-0
2015 Dallas Keuchel (Astros) W, 3-0
2015 Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees) L, 3-0
2013 Alex Cobb (Rays) W, 4-0
2013 Danny Salazar (Indians) L, 0-4
2012 Yu Darvish (Rangers) L, 1-5
2012 Kris Medlen (Braves) L, 3-6
1980 Marty Bystrom (Phillies) W, 8-7
1973 Doyle Alexander (Orioles) L, 0-3

Three of the last four have lost, while Freeland, the lone winner over that sample, squeaked out a narrow 2-1 win in a pitcher’s duel against the Cubs.

The Giants are -115 for Thursday’s tilt at DraftKings, with the Dodgers listed -105. The total, meanwhile, has climbed from 6.5 to 7.

Knebel, who’s in his first season with the Dodgers, was last used in Game 2. He struck out two San Francisco hitters during a clean inning of work.

L.A. forced the Game 5 with a 7-2 win on Tuesday, closing as a heavy -188 favorite.

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