Julio Urías will start Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday, three days after appearing in relief for one inning in Game 2 in Atlanta, manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday before Game 3.
Roberts on Monday’s off day defended his decision to use Julio Urías rather than other relief options with a two-run lead in the eighth inning on Sunday. Urías, who pitched four innings in Game 5 of the NLDS three days earlier, allowed two runs in the frame, tying the score before the Braves won it in the ninth inning for the second straight walk-off win.
“He came in, played catch, worked out [Monday],” Roberts said. “I had a great conversation with him, and he feels he feels great physically, mentally, all that stuff.”
Game 2 of the NLCS was started by Max Scherzer, pitching on two days rest after his own relief appearance to close out the NLDS. Scherzer, pitching in his fourth game in 12 days, lasted only 4⅓ innings on Sunday, allowing two runs.
Wednesday will be the fourth game for Urías in a 12-day span, though his longest appearance during that stretch was only 72 pitches and five innings.
“I think with Julio the expectation, of how we use him on his start days, it’s kind of 75-80 pitches,” Roberts told reporters in Atlanta after Game 2. “We just felt that, not having the bullpen [session], to be able to give us what he gives us on a typical start, I just, we don’t think he would be compromised [by pitching in relief].”
Pitching in relief is nothing new for Urías, with only four starts in his 21 career postseason appearances. In his great postseason run in 2020 — 1.17 ERA, 29 strikeouts in 23 innings — four of his six games were in relief, including closing out the NLCS and World Series. It’s just a little odd to see his usage this year, more so pitching after an opener in the NLDS than the one-inning relief appearance, after he started made 32 starts during the regular season with no games out of the bullpen.
The Dodgers will likely need a bullpen game in one of potentially three games at Dodger Stadium in the NLCS, and could have opted to push Urías back to Game 5 to give him an extra day of rest. But the plan for now is for Urías to start Wednesday rather than Thursday, which as of now is still if necessary since Atlanta leads the series 2-0.
“We’ll see about Game 5,” Roberts said. “My focus, our focus is today.”