The Los Angeles Dodgers will continue their quest for a fourth pennant in five years Saturday night when they start their National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. (Here's how you can watch Game 1). The Dodgers will have a surprising individual on the mound when it's time to play defense: right-handed reliever Corey Knebel.
Knebel, who "opened" Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, will again get the nod on Saturday, the team announced. Unlike in that game, in which the Dodgers used Knebel strategically in concert with left-handed starter Julio Urías, Saturday's contest could be more of a standard bullpen game.
On Friday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Eric Stephen of SB Nation) that Los Angeles was uncertain if Max Scherzer would be able to start after closing out Game 5. Scherzer was supposed to play catch on Friday night to gauge his readiness. Scherzer, however, "felt a little arm tired," Roberts said Saturday. This caused the Dodgers to give him an extra day of rest and pushed his start back to Sunday.
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With Scherzer going in Game 2, that means Walker Buehler will likely start Game 3 and Urías in Game 4. Were the series to require a Game 5, it's unclear if the Dodgers would stick with the bullpen game arrangement.
As for Los Angeles' Game 1 plans, the Dodgers' NLCS roster houses 13 pitchers, including new additions in lefty Justin Bruihl and righty Evan Phillips. The pitcher who could see most of the action in Game 1, however, is Tony Gonsolin.
Gonsolin started 13 of his 15 appearances during the regular season, compiling a 3.23 ERA (127 ERA+) and a 1.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He lasted more than five innings in just four of his outings, but he should be able to provide length on Saturday night.