Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been forthright in acknowledging Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler will start Games 1 and 2 of the Wild Card Series — in an order still to be determined — but the remainder of the rotation is hardly settled.
After trading Ross Stripling to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline, the Dodgers forged ahead with Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin as their five starters. Teams figure to need a five-man rotation this postseason due to only the World Series having days off between games.
More pressing, however, is the Dodgers needing to decide on a third starter for the best-of-three Wild Card round. The evaluation process has grown to include testing Gonsolin, May and Urias as relief pitchers after starting the game off with an opener.
The latest example was with Urias on Wednesday, as the Dodgers elected to start Joe Kelly against the Oakland Athletics with the intention he would only complete one inning. Urias wound up entering in the third and went on to turn in six innings.
He allowed just one run and pitched with conviction took him an inning or two to build up toward in starts. “Despite the two walks to the same batter, I thought my secondary pitches were working well,” he said. “I’m going to focus on the positive.”
The relief appearance was Urias’ first this season, but he has experience with it from previous years, including in the postseason. “I think it’s the same, mostly because I have the mentality of going deep in the game,” Urias answered when asked if he’s more comfortable out of the bullpen.
“It’s just different than last year when they gave me an opportunity to save a game and when I was thinking about just three batters. Today, it was just focusing on the game plan. I’m glad everything worked out.”
Considering Urias threw 86 pitches, Wednesday figured to be his final game of the regular season. If Urias is tabbed as a third starter, he would take the mound in a potential Game 3 of the Wild Card series on eight days’ rest.
However it ultimately unfolds, Urias is focused on helping the team in any capacity and is looking forward to another postseason run. “It’s what you work for. As a team, you’re really motivated to be out there,” he said.
“This time I think we’re going to go for all the marbles, like we say in Mexico. It’s very satisfying seeing my teammates going out there and giving 100%. I think we’re going to do some good stuff.”
Although the Dodgers again are trying their once-prized pitching prospect out of the bullpen, manager Dave Roberts reiterated the club views Urias as a starter long-term. “I’d like to say there isn’t anything to it,” Roberts said of his penchant to struggle early in starts.
“Because we view him as a starter. But there is a slower ramp-up when he makes starts. Tonight was really good from the outset. I just love the way Julio has embraced whatever we’ve asked of him. He’s all in, and that’s just a credit to the person.”
Roberts characterized Wednesday’s performance as “one of the best he’s ever had as far as the entire pitch mix.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!