(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
If Julio Urias can find a way to impress team management in his start against the Padres on Thursday night in San Diego, he’ll probably be included on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster for the first round of the NLDS, setting him up to be the potential starter in Game 4.
When we put together the first draft of our playoff roster projections last weekend, we felt the fourth starter and bullpen long man would be combined into one spot, and in spite of believing it would be a very tight competition, we ultimately chose Ross Stripling.
“De León is probably the freshest, Urías the most skillful, with Stripling being the most prepared mentally. In the end, it was almost a blind choice, but we went with Stripling just because he’s been kept loose out of the pen recently, and he’s been with the team for the entire ride, showing that he can shoulder the load in any type of game situation. Any other decision wouldn’t surprise us, though, as it is indeed a very tough call to make.”
Despite his strong contributions to the club’s battered rotation in early September, Jose De León presumably pitched his way out of postseason consideration after surrendering six runs on seven hits in 3-2/3 frames against the Diamondbacks on September 18, then getting pushed around a bit in only 2-1/3 innings against the Padres on Tuesday.
While the Dodgers have indeed confirmed the rotation for the first three games — Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda — the starter for Game 4, if even necessary, will likely be dependent on the outcome of the first three games. For example, if trailing by a game, management will conceivably come back with Kershaw when facing elimination, as opposed to giving Urías the nod if leading by a game.
That being said, there’s certainly the possibility of both Stripling and Urías being included on the playoff roster. Since our original projections almost a week ago, Louis Coleman has been throwing terribly, while other relievers like J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore and Jesse Chavez haven’t shown any signs of overwhelming value.
As far as Urías is concerned, his last start was on September 13 against the Yankees in New York, and has thrown in only one game over the past two weeks since being relegated to the bullpen.
There’s no doubt that he’s deserving of a spot in the playoff rotation, as most pundits believe he’s the fourth best pitcher on the expanded roster, even when considering the most recent comeback attempts by Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson.
“Urias would be absolutely deserving of a playoff spot, posting a 3.53 ERA and 3.22 FIP in his first 74 major league innings, with 79 strikeouts and 29 walks. In his last five starts he has allowed six runs (four earned), putting up a 1.38 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 innings.”
Regardless of his past performances, all eyes will be on the 20-year-old rookie tonight as he squares off against Padres southpaw Christian Friedrich in the series finale.
While the Dodgers’ 25-man roster needs to be submitted to MLB on October 6, we’ll put together a final draft of our own projections sometime shortly after the series this weekend against the Giants. Please be sure to check back frequently for any new information or updates.