Julio Urias is 20, amazingly good and can drop Dodgers hammer

LOS ANGELES — Juilo Urias can dominate the Cubs on Wednesday night, but if he wants to legally celebrate with a beer, he’s out of luck.

The Dodgers lefty, at 20 years and 68 days, is set to become the youngest pitcher in major league history to start in the postseason, when his team faces the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLCS.

For Urias, it will represent one more big moment in a season he made his big-league debut as a teenager and performed at a solid level for a Dodgers team that needed a rotation boost behind Clayton Kershaw.
In 18 appearances, 15 of which were starts, Urias went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA and went unbeaten in his last 14 starts.

“The pressure is always there,” Urias said Tuesday before the Dodgers took a 2-1 series lead by beating the Cubs in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. “It’s something that you have to deal with. I felt the adrenaline when I was on the bench, so I’m thinking it’s something that I’m also going to feel.”

Urias will eclipse the youth Bret Saberhagen, at 20 years and 175 days, brought to the mound for the Royals to start Game 2 of the 1984 ALCS.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts doesn’t expect Urias — whose major league debut came on May 27 at Citi Field — will be fazed by the stage onto which he will step.

“He’s just so calm and cool and some of it plays to the youthfulness, the naïveté, and not really understanding the gravity of this moment, which is great,” Roberts said. “It’s a baseball game, and when he’s asked to take the baseball he does it. He’s going out there focused and trying to execute pitches.”

Urias made a relief appearance in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals and pitched two scoreless innings in which he issued two walks. With that outing he became the youngest pitcher to appear in the postseason since 19-year-olds Don Gullett and Bert Blyleven in 1970.

“As a ballplayer I set goals for myself ever since I came to the United States,” said Urias, a native of Mexico. “My goal originally was to set foot on a major league mound and pitch at the big-league level. I did that in May, and now to be able to have this opportunity and be called on to start, it’s great.”

In an attempt to limit Urias’ workload, the Dodgers kept the rookie to 14 innings over the final month of the regular season. His last appearance of more than five innings came on Sept. 2.

“The decision has been the team’s,” Urias said. “The only thing that’s been important is to be in the mentality of go out there, do my job, and that’s really what matters.”

Though Clayton Kershaw made a relief cameo in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals, Roberts said he doesn’t expect his ace to pitch from the bullpen before his next start.

“We haven’t talked about him from the pen,” Roberts said. “The circumstance in Game 5 was an elimination game. It was something that he brought to me. For me at that point in time it made sense.”

With Tuesday’s 6-0 victory, the Dodgers have consecutive shutouts in the postseason for the time in franchise history.

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