The Los Angeles Dodgers made just one change for their National League Championship Series roster, though rather than add Ross Stripling as manager Dave Roberts suggested was under consideration, it was a surprising one as Julio Urias replaced Scott Alexander.
Urias last pitched on Sept. 30 and threw all of four innings across three relief appearances. “We like his pitch mix, the weapons that he has to attack the lefties and the righties in their lineup,” Roberts explained of the decision.
He added Alexander was removed from the club’s active roster due to injury. The veteran southpaw threw one inning in Game 3 of the NL Division Series.
When Urias was working to return from last year’s season-ending shoulder surgery, the Dodgers adjusted their plan by only stretching him out to throw multiple innings as a relief pitcher. Urias didn’t throw more than an inning during the regular season but is capable of shouldering more of a workload in the NLCS.
“He can get more than three outs, and then the back-to-back, that’s something that we’re comfortable with, but obviously it wouldn’t be an extended back-to-back,” Roberts said. “But the value of Julio to come in and get one to four or five outs, I think that for us with our bullpen construction, we feel comfortable with that.”
While he didn’t get an opportunity to pitch much this season, the role is one Urias is familiar with. At 20 years old, he became the youngest pitcher in MLB history to appear in a postseason game when he entered in the 2016 NLDS.
“We saw it in ’16 in the postseason and what he did and how he responded to big moments, big spots. And so I think the one thing with Julio is us worrying about the pulse and leverage in the postseason, that’s really not — then the next thing is — obviously most important is the health component,” Roberts said.
“And we’ve talked to the trainers, the doctors, and Julio himself and feel that the strength and where he’s at physically, that we’re not compromising anything. So when you put those two things together, we feel really good about our decision.”
Urias did struggle in his first appearance, allowing a solo home run that wound up being the difference in a 6-5 loss.
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