Julio Urias will become the youngest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball postseason history Wednesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium.
“I thank God for the accomplishment, but I have to put that aside,” Urias said through an interpreter Tuesday. “I really want to play a good game for my team, and that’s really what it’s about.”
At 20 years and 68 days old, the left-hander breaks the previous record of 20 years, 175 days by Cleveland High School alumnus Bret Saberhagen when he started for the Kansas City Royals in Game 2 of the 1984 American League Championship Series.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts described Urias as “so calm and cool.”
“Some of it plays to the youthfulness, the naivete, and just not really understanding the gravity of this moment, which is great,” Roberts said.
“I think that it’s a baseball game, and when he’s asked to take the baseball, he does it. And he’s going out there focused and trying to execute pitches. I have no concerns about him taking the ball.”
Urias made his major league debut on May 27 and had a 5-2 record with a 3.39 ERA in 18 regular-season games, including 15 starts. He was 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his 10 games, seven starts, following the all-star break. He was undefeated in his last 14 games, 11 starts, since June 17.
Urias faced the Cubs twice, allowing six runs (five earned) and eight hits in five innings in a 7-2 loss at Chicago’s Wrigley Field June 2 and one run and six hits in a 3-2 victory Aug. 27 at Dodger Stadium, striking out eight.
Urias pitched two innings of scoreless relief to get the victory in Game 5 of the National League Division Series Thursday.
The native of Culiacan Rosales, Mexico was signed by Dodger scout Mike Brito — who also signed Fernando Valenzuela — on Aug. 17, 2012, five days after his 16th birthday.
Urias began his professional career in 2013 with the Great Lakes Loons, the Dodgers affiliate in the Class A Midwest League.
Right-hander John Lackey, who will turn 38 on Sunday, will start for Chicago, making his 22nd postseason start, most among active pitchers. He did not face the Dodgers during the regular season.
The Dodgers took a two games to one lead in the best-of-seven series with a 6-0 victory Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, as Rich Hill and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout and Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner homered.
“We’re just not hitting the ball well,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after his team suffered its second consecutive shutout.
“We’re doing the same kind of routines, the work is the same, the batting practice is the same, or the lack of it is the same, and we’re just not getting the results right now. There is really no excuse. We just have to pick it up quickly.”
Ron Cey and Bill Russell, the third baseman and shortstop in the Dodgers record-setting infield from 1973 to 1982, will throw ceremonial first pitches.
The national anthem will be sung by gospel recording artist Keith Williams Jr. for the third consecutive home game. The Dodgers won both other games. A military color guard with members of all five branches of the military will be on the field during the national anthem.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer Jarrett Zubiate of Victorville will be honored as the military hero of the game, with U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus joining Zubiate on the field. Zubiate served aboard the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul and the carrier USS Carl Vinson. He is now a recruiter.
Zubiate has received three Navy Achievement Medals, 20 Gold Wreath awards and four Six Shooter awards.
The Smokin’ Cobras retro hits band will perform in the left-field reserve area and two flash tattoo artists will be in the left-field plaza area from 3-5 p.m. DJ Adam will provide musical entertainment in the right-field plaza and DJ Anthony Valdez in the right-field reserve area from 3-5 p.m.
Auto gates and stadium gates will open at 2:08 p.m. The Dodgers will conduct batting practice from 2:25-3:25 p.m. and the Cubs from 3:30-4:20 p.m. The first pitch is set for 5:08 p.m.
Fans are being encouraged to arrive early and to carpool or use an alternative transportation service. The Dodger Stadium Express will begin service from Union Station and the South Bay 2 1/2 hours before game time.
—City News Service