This was supposed to be a battle of the Maxes, but the Dodgers — having used Max Scherzer to close out Game 5 on Thursday night — have turned to Corey Knebel to start Game 1 of the 2021 NLCS against the Braves and Max Fried.
Knebel will be making his second start in three days, and he’ll face a left-handed heavy top-of-the-lineup for the Braves. Four of the first five batters are all left-handed, including reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman, former Dodger Joc Pederson, studly second baseman Ozzie Albies and my X-Factor pick Eddie Rosario, who is hitting leadoff for just the second time in his MLB career. Austin Riley is the lone righty among the first five batters.
Here’s what Fried did against LA last year.
- 12 2/3 IP
- 12 H
- 4 R/ER
- 3 HR
- 6 BB
- 14 K
His Game 1 performance was much better than his Game 6 performance. Still, he’s a good one. Here’s what I wrote in the NLCS preview earlier today.
“He’s their ace and really pitched like it in the second half (1.74 ERA). Overall, he pitched to a 3.04 ERA, 3.31 FIP and a 17.5 K-BB%. In his Game 2 start against Milwaukee, he threw six innings of shutout ball and allowed just three hits and struck out nine.”
Yep. Here’s hoping that trend continues, because…
They’ll test that theory with their right-handed heavy lineup against Fried, which means no Cody Bellinger or Gavin Lux to start. I’m sure they’ll see the field at some point. Corey Seager, who homered off Fried in the NLCS last year, is the lone lefty in the starting lineup. I thought Justin Turner may bat a little lower, but maybe he’ll find some magic in the cleanup spot.
Here are some notes prior to Game 1.
I’m a little surprised David Price is not on the roster, but the Dodgers opted for another left-handed releiver in Justin Bruihl and a righty in Evan Phillips. With the 7-game series, the Dodgers could afford to be without an extra bench piece in favor of a bullpen arm.
I doubt Max Muncy is back in this series (or even the World Series, should they advance), but it’s interesting he could only replace a position player, not a pitcher.
First pitch is at 5:08 p.m. Pacific time.