Julio Urías is set to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres after putting together the best season of his career.
The Padres advanced to the NLDS by upsetting the New York Mets in the three-game Wild Card series, which set up the division rivals to face off.
“We’re prepared. We’re ready,” Urías said through an interpreter. “It’s another game. Everybody is ready and excited for this game, excited for the series, and I’ll be ready to pitch.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts officially named Urías the starter on Monday after keeping it a secret since their first workout on Friday at Dodger Stadium. “He just told me like it’s just another game,” Urías said.
“He told me like any other day. Obviously, I knew from the first practice that I was going to start Game 1, and then just the preparation and the work to get ready for this Game 1. That’s all we did.”
Urías has pitched in 22 postseason games throughout his career, but this is the first time he is starting a Game 1. “It’s another opportunity for me to go out there and do what I do or prepare for what I do,” he said.
“Obviously, a lot has gone into this. A lot of things from my teammates, from my coaches, from the training staff. Everybody that has put in this work for me. It’s another opportunity for me to go out there and pitch in a moment like this.”
The Dodgers pitching staff had the lowest ERA in baseball despite multiple key injuries all season, and Urías led the way with an NL-best 2.16 ERA. Although the rotation began the season with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw leading it, the 26-year-old Urías was the one who emerged as the ace of the staff due to his performance and injuries to the top two starters.
“I think being on the roster shows they show a lot of confidence in you,” Urías said. “That’s what they’ve done over the years. Just making the roster means so much. Then you’re just putting your piece in the puzzle.
“That’s what I’m trying to go out there and do, trying to go out there and pitch and not take too much into it and do the pitching and pitch as best I can.”
Once a top pitching prospect, Urías made his debut at 19 years old and became the youngest pitcher in MLB history to start a postseason game when he did so in Game 4 of the the 2016 NL Championship Series.
The following year, he underwent shoulder surgery that ended his season, and he didn’t return to a full workload until 2021 when he pitched 185 innings. “Yeah, that’s the beautiful thing about all of this,” Urías said about his career so far.
“There’s been a lot of ups, there’s been a lot of downs. There’s been a lot of good games, bad games, and a lot of things in between. To be able to be a part of it and pitch in this game and all the preparation that went into it and all the work that went into it means a whole lot.”
Why did Dodgers pick Julio Urías to start Game 1?
Kershaw was the other candidate to start Game 1 after putting together another fantastic season despite battling more back trouble. Although the team ended up choosing Urías for the first start, the Dodgers would have been comfortable going with either of them.
“I think for us you could essentially flip a coin,” Roberts said. “They’re both aces in our eyes. I think that Julio has been fantastic for us all year. Kind of just making that decision to give him that opportunity, we all felt good about it. Clayton feels good about starting Game 2, and going on from there.”
With the decision, Urías is lined up to pitch a potential Game 5 of the NLDS, and if the Dodgers advance, Kershaw would be in line to pitch Game 1 of the NLCS.
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