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Dodgers Postseason: A Perfect Option At Closer For Wild Card Game

Julio Urias is an elite postseason reliever



The Dodgers play in a do-or-die game on Wednesday against the Cardinals and Max Scherzer is going to be the starting pitcher. In the bullpen, the Dodgers will have Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen ready. However, the best option might be a 2020 postseason hero, Julio Urías. What he was able to accomplish last season in his relief opportunities was nothing but elite.

As a reminder, coming out of the bullpen last October, Julio pitched 13.1 innings and gave up just four hits. He did not give up any runs, issued only one walk, and struck out 15 batters. He stepped up once Dave Roberts lost faith in the primary closer, Kenley Jansen.

Let’s take a look at some of the objections or issues that should be addressed.

Julio Is A Starter

One of the biggest objections has been, basically, “Julio is a starter”. Well, yes he is and he was excellent in 2021. He is probably scheduled to pitch on either Friday or Saturday IF the Dodgers reach the next round. Again, that is a big “IF”. If they do not win the game against the Cardinals on Wednesday the season is OVER. It cannot emphasize enough that they cannot lose on Wednesday and all options must be available, especially an option that is so good in a bullpen role for one game.

We Have Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen

Both Jansen and Treinen have been excellent in 2021. Neither of them was close to what Julio did in the 2020 post-season when the pressure is beyond measure. In the 2020 post-season, Jansen pitched seven innings and gave up four earned runs while giving up two walks. Treinen pitched 11.1 innings and gave up six earned runs with nine hits and one walk. It wasn’t close as Julio was the stud reliever as the post-season pressure did not get to him. Until Treinen and Jansen can prove that they are elite in the post-season, I have to go with Urías if there is a one-run lead against the heart of the order in the 9th inning.

When Would Julio Be Used?

As I stated above I would have him close a one-run game. However, what if the game goes extra innings? Julio is in a perfect position to put in more than one inning as he’ll have a full three days rest since his start on Saturday. This would not be ideal but, again, this is truly a must-win game. The rotation will need to work out for game two (probably Tony Gonsolin) if they win but if they make it they can line up Scherzer, Urias, and Walker Buehler for the last three games of the next round. I like our odds a lot.

Ideally, the Dodgers can just have Scherzer go six or seven innings and Treinen and Jansen can close the game easily.

Final Thoughts

It’s not ideal that the Dodgers have to play in a one-game Wild Card series. It truly is a do-or-die game for the Dodgers and they will need to pull out all the stops. The hope is that the Dodgers will have an easy win against the Cardinals but we know that never happens. I can almost guarantee that the Dodgers will have Julio Urías as a bullpen option to get past the Cardinals.

NEXT: Did Blown Call Cost LA the Division? How MLB Should Change its Postseason & More

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. The pitching options are good for the Dodgers. The challenge is scoring against Adam Wainwright who stifled the Dodgers last time he pitched against them at St Louis. They need to figure this guy out early and not allow the WC to be a 1-run game that the Dodgers have a losing record this season.

    • BlueMaxx, relax. JT and AJ Pollock did not start the game against Wainwright in St. Louis. Wainwright will be knocked out by the 4th inning if not sooner! Come on, 45 runs over the last 5 games and a 40 year old is going to contain them? Don’t make me laugh.

      • not sure AJ and JT play. JT will at 3rd. We need to trust doc to look at all the analytics and go with the right choices. CT3 or AJ who hit Wainwright better? Lux is hitting RH pitchers well; I’d like him in the lineup in CF. Wainwright throws a lot of junk – Belli can hit oppo field all day if told to do so against the shift, and play first. Please do not play Beatty or Pujolz at 1st until Wainwright hits the showers!

    • Exactly, BlueMaxx. My concern is the lineup Roberts puts out there against Wainwright and the fact that Dodgers struggled against him in that game in St. Louis I get a real feeling that if Dodgers fall in this one and done game it will be an offense that doesn’t show up with the right approach at all. Situational hitting will be what carries them past this game. But another concern of course is the in game management decisions by DR.

      • Paul, I get it that you don’t like Roberts, but don’t you ever get tired of bashing him? The team won 106 games this year, unfortunately, one less than the Giants. I suspect that not many people would have expected that. Despite your stated beliefs, he’s not the village idiot and it does appear that the players like/love playing for him. That should count for something. 20-20 hindsight is easy, but doing it on the fly is a lot more difficult. When was the last time you actually managed any team—let alone a MLB team? Game strategy is a funny thing–when it works, you’re a genius. When it doesn’t, you’re a bum. Problem is that this is baseball and even Hall of Fame hitters fail 70% of the time. Cut him a little slack, please. We’re not all perfect and rise to the level of your lofty expectations.

        • Greg, very well said! It’s similar sentiment that I have offered here as well. It is not easy having to make so many decisions (which will forever be second guessed) on the fly. Or to win as many games as the Dodgers have during Roberts’ tenure. I don’t care how much talent you have. There gobs of examples of talented teams who failed to even make the post season. Consider the 2021 Padres for example. But I digress, IMHO DR’s record speaks for itself. Give the man a break and support the Dodgers through the playoffs. Go Dodgers!

          • The Padres have a vastly overrated pitching staff that crumbled with injury. In the end they couldn’t stop anybody from scoring. I’m a long time Dodger fan and will happily say they have superior talent to anybody and have since shortly after Guggenheim bought them. The team was immediately infused with talent and began their run of division titles. When Friedman was hired he raised the organizational talent at every level. Roberts is, by all accounts, exceptional with both the players and front office and guided the team to a championship last year but even the most ardent Dodger fans are hard-pressed to suggest he is great game tactician. Mattingly won more games
            each of the three years prior to Roberts’ hire than Roberts did in year one and he was run out of town. You can root for the team and question Roberts’ occasional lack of in game judgement; they’re not mutually exclusive.

        • Its DR’s insistence on playing a .150 hitter, all year long, that lit a fire under many fans.

          Its a sore spot that is STILL festering…

          A .150 hitter should not take a post season roster spot over better performing options.

          If/when Belli starts striking ou while swinging for the fences in the playoff(s), expect more criticism thrown DR’s way.

        • I like Paul’s input. He’s knowledgeable about this team, and baseball in general. If you don’t like the fact the some of us, including me, criticize DR for things like his insistence on playing Bellinger, his disregard for Beaty, who has been mashing it since finally being allowed to play, please fell free to ignore us, rather than lob insults. DR has his faults. It’s a fact. And this Dodger team has been the most talented in baseball for half a decade. If and when we win it all, it will because AF has has assembled the best team in baseball. DR’s best move last year was to resist the urge to bring in struggling Jansen to close postseason games, including the last game of the WS in favor of letting Urias finish games out. Sometimes a non-move is the best move. I hope we see more non-moves like this in this postseason.

  2. Kenley is the closer. He is pitching great right now! If he let’s them tie it up THEN Urias comes in. If Jansen blows that save and we lose the game he might not get re-signed by us. If he continues to pitch well in these playoffs we will re-sign him.

    • Dodgers won’t need a closer. Mad Max shuts down those pesky Redbirds, and scorching hot Dodger bats light up Wainwright like a Fourth of July fireworks show. I can dream can’t I? But I do think this dream does have a distinct possibility of coming true. Go Dodgers.

  3. Hopefully Julio isn’t needed in relief. But 1 inning should be ok if necessary. All-hands on deck for as Trea Turner said “It’s a Game 7” Somehow that seems better than the Wild Card. In any case, Dodgers are virtually undefeated at home in the playoffs last few years. They are a team on a mission!

  4. Bum4ever, you need to get your facts straight. Mattingly won 82 games in 2011, 86 in 2012, 92 in 2013, 94 in 2014, and 92 in 2015. Roberts won 91 in 2016, 104 in 2017, 92 in 2018, 106 in 2019, a 112 pace in 2020, and 106 in 2021. Stats don’t lie.

    • Thank you for sharing those. It doesn’t fit a lot of the narrative on this board, which is all the more reason we need the stats, just the facts ma’am!

    • Your stats actually bear out exactly what Bum said:

      “Mattingly won more games each of the THREE years prior to Roberts’ hire than Roberts did in year one ”

      Read it word for word, and compare your stats quote:

      “Mattingly won 82 games in 2011, 86 in 2012, 92 in 2013, 94 in 2014, and 92 in 2015. Roberts won 91 in 2016”

  5. T Turner, Seager and Lux are hitting the cover off the ball. We got plenty of offense. We need to shut down cards hitting. Playoff games tend to be low scoring affairs

    • Joe, totally agree. I think unconscious Seager, the Turners and Pollo provide enough sock to get the job done. Mad Max whiffed 13 Redbirds in St. Lou and according to Trea he’s already angry lol! Let’s enjoy the show.

  6. Unlike late last season, Jansen has looked sharp lately. I was a big detractor of Jansen late last season. But he’s getting it done now. And now is what counts. Let him close. The Dodgers bullpen has a lot of new faces, and has done really well. I’ll give credit to DR for in incorporating these new faces and juggling the starting rotation when May and Bauer departed. Thanks to AF, and the players themselves, we now have 3 Cy Young caliber starters, and a bullpen that is very capable. We do need to pull out all stops to win a one and done WC. But this team is hitting better than they have all season. Wainright will be facing the same guys. But this time they will be much stronger. I expect Sherzer to go deep (7 or 8 innings), despite two less than stellar recent starts. I expect the Dodger power surge to continue to the tune of at least 4 or 5 runs. Go Dodgers.

    • Couldn’t agree more. As Mr. T so eloquently put it, “I pity the fools!” The Cards are in for the same treatment the Yankees where tonight. The Dodgers will show extreme discipline against Wainwright. Scherzer will be his usual dominant self. Dodgers will advance IMHO.

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