The Los Angeles Dodgers utilized a closer by committee approach during the postseason, giving opportunities to the likes of Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen and Julio Urias in the ninth inning.
Urias memorably was on the mound in the World Series-clinching Game 6, tossing 2.1 perfect innings against the Tampa Bay Rays to solidify the Dodgers’ first championship since 1988. For Urias, helping deliver a championship to L.A. was a surreal experience.
Growing up in Mexico, he was a big Dodgers fan and idolized Fernando Valenzuela. The two have been compared to each other on many occasions, given their similar repertoires and windups, and the fact that both throw left-handed.
While Urias is honored by the comparisons, he pointed out that there will only be one Valenzuela, via ESPN:
“It feels good, because being compared to someone else is awesome. But like I say, there is only one Fernando, there has only been one Fernando, and he’s the one who filled the stadiums in Los Angeles and the ones on the road,” Urias said. “That was an incredible thing that’s not going to happen again.”
In his 17-year Major League career, Valenzuela won 173 games and yielded a 3.54 ERA. He was a six-time All-Star and won two World Series titles during his tenure with the Dodgers.
Valenzuela retired from baseball in 1997 and has spent the past 16 seasons as a Spanish-language color commentator for the Dodgers. He has gotten to know Urias over the years, as they traveled with the club for the Mexico Series in 2018.
Still just 24 years old, Urias has followed a similar career path to Valenzuela. He has experience in both the starting rotation and bullpen, embracing whatever role is asked of him.
Urias’ role reportedly topic of discussion within Dodgers
All but one of Urias’ 11 appearances during the regular season came in the form of starts. However, he mostly pitched out of the bullpen come playoff time.
In the wake of his success as a multi-inning reliever, the Dodgers reportedly are deliberating whether to keep Urias in the bullpen next year or move him back to the starting rotation.
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