It was just this past weekend the Dodgers clinched the National League West Division with a win over the Colorado Rockies and the bottles of champagne started popping in the locker room after the game.
During the celebration, first baseman Adrián “Titán” González reminded the young pitcher from Culiacán, Sinaloa, México that…well, he’s not old enough to drink.
— Adrián González (@Adrian_ElTitan) September 26, 2016
It is certain Urías will have to wait another year to have a drink with his teammates however, one occasion Urías may not have to wait for is the opportunity to start in a playoff game. The questions remains whether Urías should start in a possible Game 4 against the Washington Nationals after Dave Roberts explained earlier this week that Urías is in the mix of pitchers’ rotation.
And we believe, he should. Here’s why.
In just 17 games played and 74 innings pitched, fans may recall a familiar face when they see Urías take the mound, a guy by the name of Fernando Valenzuela. Urías stands about the same height as Valenzuela. Both about six feet, the two natives from México started in the big leagues at the same age: Urías 19.289 and Valenzuela 19.319 years young. Further, Urías grew up in the same region as Valenzuela separated only two hundred forty miles apart from Urías’ town of Culiacán to Valenzuela’s, Navojoa, Sonora. More importantly, Urías was discovered by the same scout that discovered Valenzuela, the recognizable Mike Brito.
One cannot help but be optimistic about Urías. The Dodgers signed him at the age of 16 when he was already throwing a 92 mile an hour fastball. After having a stellar minor league career, his ERA sits below the MLB average. And now, he has a chance to become the fourth starter in the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals. Valenzuela had one of the best starts in major league pitching in just his second season at the age of 20. Already pitched in 10 games in his first season, Valenzuela led the Dodgers to a World Series in 1981 in just his second season. Despite the limited innings and the high risk of injury for pitchers under 20 years old, Urías has matched expectations this season going into the playoffs. Now, he has an opportunity to join the arsenal of left hander pitchers to lead the Dodgers in the playoffs.
Julio Urías just turned 20 years young this past August. The young elite prospect was brought up earlier this season from the Dodger’s farm system Triple AAA team, the Oklahoma City Dodgers. In his major league debut, Urías pitched just 2.2 innings allowing three earned run sand five hits in a 5-6 loss to the New York Mets. Not the best start for the teenager at the time, given his ERA skyrocketed in his first game to 10.12. But, that was just one game.
It wouldn’t take very long for Urías to start getting acclimated to the big leagues. During the month of June, Urías started six games earning his first win at Milwaukee on June 28th. Having faced four playoff contention teams (Cubs clinched, Nationals clinched, Giants and Mets) in his first seven games, Urías was thrown into the deep end to face some of the best teams in the league. Urías’ ERA has declined allowing just five home runs and a total 79 strikeouts over a span of 17 games. Further, Urías has struck out nearly 25 percent of batters faced. Urías’ best game was against Milwaukee at home when he struck out eight, allowing no earned runs and just five hits in five innings leading the Dodgers to a 3-2 win.
Did we mention he leads the league in pickoffs with 6:
However, the low average in innings played during this season is intentional. Since his second start, Urías has averaged 4.5 innings in games played and not for any bad reason.The young left handed pitcher’s inning are being closely monitored for good reason. Manger Dave Roberts along with the Dodgers’ pitching staff have even mentioned that there have been times when they pushed Urías a little too far. With the amount of starters and relievers on this team, there’s no reason the coaching staff needed to expend any more innings than necessary. Given the limited amount of experience on the mound, it’s safe to say Urías has had a great start to his career presently posting a 3.53 ERA and 5-2 record.
It has been a roller coaster path leading to the postseason for the rookie. Urías has started all but 4 games when he was called from the bullpen. Not including the start against the Padres September 29, Urías has only seen action in 3 games for the month of September. The roster did increase to include more member at the start of November, giving Coach Roberts to see other names in the bullpen. Moreover, Ross Stripling is fourth best amongst pitchers in innings pitched this season for the Dodgers and has seen more action as a reliever, looks like it may be time Coach gives the young kind from Culiacán the call.