Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made official on Monday that Julio Urias will start Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. But the question remains — will Clayton Kershaw start Game 5 on short rest on Thursday?
Urias at 20 years, 68 days old will be the youngest pitcher in MLB history to start a postseason game, a little more than three months younger than Bret Saberhagen, who was 20 years, 175 days old when he started Game 2 of the 1984 ALCS.
Urias pitched two innings in relief in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals, but other than that his four-inning simulated game on Oct. 4 at Dodger Stadium is his longest outing since Sept. 2, when he pitched 5⅓ innings against the Padres. Still, Roberts said he expects some length from Urias on Wednesday.
"We've kind of monitored his usage throughout the regular season. But I think right now for me it's not necessarily the pitch count. A lot of it is the stressful innings too," Roberts said during his off day press conference at Dodger Stadium. "It's a big game. So if he's throwing the baseball the way we expect, then I'm not afraid to push him to help us win a baseball game."
For Game 5, Roberts said Kenta Maeda was scheduled to start but left open the possibility for a change.
"I think right now, that's how we have it lined up with Rich, Julio and Kenta. So I think as this series moves on, you always have to be open to adjusting," Roberts said.
Rich Hill starts Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Kershaw threw 84 pitches in his seven scoreless innings on Sunday night in Game 2, and starting him on three days rest in Game 5 gives the team the option to either potentially use him in relief again in Game 7, or start Game 1 of the World Series on regular rest, on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Starting Kershaw on short rest would presumably move Maeda back to Game 6, giving him extra rest, something that has been preferred whenever possible especially in the second half. Maeda in his last four starts has allowed 15 runs on 21 hits in 13⅔ innings.