Dodgers News: Corey Knebel Fought Nerves As Opener For NLDS Game 5

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A rash of injuries forced the Los Angeles Dodgers to rely on bullpen games throughout last season, and it carried over into the playoffs. That was most prominent when Corey Knebel started as an opener against the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

Julio Urias had been lined up to take the ball at Oracle Park, but the Dodgers made a late switch under the belief that having the left-hander pitch out of the bullpen was more advantageous.

The expectation was Urias likely would follow Knebel, though the Dodgers first turned to Brusdar Graterol for the second inning.

As for Knebel, he allowed a two-out double to Buster Posey but struck out Brandon Crawford to get through a scoreless first inning. In reflecting on his start, Knebel admitted to being extremely nervous, per Matt Gelb of The Athletic:

“That was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in a baseball game,” Knebel said. “It was crazy.”

Knebel was used as an opener in four games during the 2021 season, but the postseason start marked the first of his career. The right-hander filled the role again in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, allowing one run in his lone inning of work.

Knebel finished the postseason with three traditional relief appearances. He was among the Dodgers’ group of free agents and went on to sign a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Although the year included missing several months because of a right lat strain, Knebel was effective when the mound. He posted a 2.45 ERA and 2.90 FIP while striking out 10.52 batters per nine innings.

Hudson replacing Knebel?

Overlapping with reports of Knebel and the Phillies agreeing to terms, the Dodgers completed the signing of Daniel Hudson.

The veteran right-hander offers a similar profile to Knebel, though with more durability over the past few seasons. The signing also represented a reunion for Hudson, who was with the Dodgers in 2018.

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