Landon Knack to be weekend tone-setter for Dodgers

Fresh off a successful series in Denver where they took three of four games from the Colorado Rockies, the Los Angeles Dodgers return to Dodger Stadium on Friday for a brief but crucial set against their cross-town rivals, the Angels. Taking the mound for the Dodgers will be rookie Landon Knack, a somewhat familiar face in the rotation this season.

Injuries have plagued the Dodgers’ pitching staff, with both Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Walker Buehler recently sidelined. Yamamoto began the week on the injured list due to a rotator cuff strain, while Buehler is nursing hip inflammation. This left the team with three healthy starters: Tyler Glasnow, Gavin Stone, and James Paxton. Bobby Miller also rejoined the rotation earlier this week, though his return was less than stellar.

Enter Landon Knack. The rookie, who was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, has already made four starts for the Dodgers this season, and his performance has been promising. Knack has maintained a solid 2.61 ERA, allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of his outings. His strikeout rate stands at 6.97 K/9, complemented by a respectable 2.61 BB/9.

Knack’s Triple-A stats paint a slightly different picture. While his strikeout rate is higher, approaching 10 K/9, his walk rate has been less impressive, nearing four per nine innings. Despite this, he has managed a 3.54 ERA over nine starts for the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

With the Dodgers in need of a reliable arm, Knack has an opportunity to cement his place in the rotation. The team has occasionally resorted to using an opener this season, but with two starters on the IL and Clayton Kershaw still on the mend, a stable presence is desperately needed. Knack, though not known for pitching deep into games or possessing overpowering strikeout numbers, has shown he can provide much-needed stability.

The matchup against the Angels could be the perfect stage for Knack to shine. The Angels rank in the bottom 10 in on-base percentage and 21st in runs scored, making them a potentially favorable opponent. While they don’t strike out a lot, their lack of impactful contact at the plate presents Knack with a prime opportunity to make a strong impression.

If Knack can deliver a solid performance on Friday, it could earn him an extended run in the rotation during this critical period. For the Dodgers, this would be a timely boost as they navigate through a challenging stretch of the season. For Knack, it’s a chance to prove that he belongs on the big stage, providing stability and perhaps even a bit of excitement to a team in need of both.