LOS ANGELES — Julio Urias will make history when he takes the mound in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Cubs on Wednesday night, and he has a chance to give the Dodgers a commanding series lead.
At 20 years, 68 days old, Urias will be the youngest pitcher in baseball history to start a postseason game. With his two innings of scoreless relief in Game 5 of the NLDS in Washington, he’s already the youngest pitcher in MLB history to win a postseason game.
The question of innings have surrounded Urias all season, after entering the season as the top pitching prospect in baseball. After throwing 80 innings in 2015, he is at 124 innings and counting this year between the majors and minors, including the playoffs.
“It is something incredible,” Urias said on Tuesday. “When I was in the minor leagues, I started to feel as if I belonged there, and that was how I was able to continue on. Now I feel like I'm part of the big leagues, and that's really important because I feel confident, and I feel like that's something that can help me moving forward.”
Urias definitely has the stuff to be in the majors, posting a 3.39 ERA and 3.17 FIP in his 77 regular season innings, with 84 strikeouts and 31 walks.
He was also used judiciously and in various roles, spot starting here and there, with some relief appearances mixed in. The Dodgers put a total of 15 innings on his odometer in September, and the last time he went even four innings was Sept. 2, when Urias threw 5⅓ innings against San Diego.
Urias said he’d be ready to go as long as the Dodgers asked him to in Game 4.
“I feel good. I feel strong. I feel healthy. As long as my body allows me to, I go with the mentality of going out there and having a good game,” Urias said. “The only thing that's important is to be in the mentality of go out there, do my job, and that's really what matters.”
The one constant, no matter how long Urias has pitched in any single outing, is that his innings have been quality frames.
Urias after the All-Star break had a 1.99 ERA in 40⅔ innings, with 40 strikeouts and 14 walks in seven starts and three relief appearances. That included tying his career high with eight strikeouts in six strong innings, allowing one run against the Cubs in Los Angeles on Aug. 27.
“He doesn’t get overwhelmed by any situation,” catcher Yasmani Grandal said on Tuesday. “I’m really excited to see him perform in the postseason, even though he already came out and threw a couple innings for us and did a really good job.”
Urias pitched two scoreless innings in an elimination game in Game 5 of the NLDS in Washington D.C.
“Julio, as I've gotten to know him, he's just so calm and cool, and some of it plays to the youthfulness, the naivete, and just not really understanding the gravity of this moment, which is great,” manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday. “I think that it's a baseball game, and when he's asked to take the baseball, he does it. And he's going out there focused and trying to execute pitches.
“You look at Andrew Toles as kind of a similar thing. It's just these guys, the world around them, the noise, they just completely eliminated it. And it's just fun to watch these young guys go. But, Julio, I have no concerns about him taking the ball. I have complete confidence.”
NLCS Game 4 info
Dodgers lead Cubs, 2-1
Time: 5:08 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal)
Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone)