20-Year-Old Dodgers Starter Julio Urias Will Now Play Huge Role in 2016 NLCS

Julio Urias warms up before a regular-season start.

When you were 20-years-old, what were you up to? Going to college, procrastinating, still living with your parents? Well, at 20-years-old, Dodgers lefty Julio Urias will start on the mound in Game 4 of the 2016 NLCS, according to CBS Sports.

It was uncertain whether or not he would be in the rotation this series, but now it appears he will give the Dodgers a fourth starter in their championship series against the Chicago Cubs.

His last appearance came in Game 5 of the team’s NLDS match up against the Washington Nationals, when he pitched two scoreless innings and became the youngest pitcher to earn a postseason win in MLB history.

Julio Urias pitches in Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS against the Washington Nationals.

Urias entered the 2016 season Baseball Prospectus’ No. 4 overall prospect in baseball. It was widely unknown what the timetable for his call up would be, but he made his major league debut on May 27, largely due to injuries in the Los Angeles rotation.

He only made 15 starts in the regular season and is still largely untested in big spots, which puts manager Dave Roberts’ decision to start him into question. There is just no way to predict how a 20-year-old is going to react to the pressure of October baseball.

The lefty is still developing, but projects as a power pitcher eventually. Currently, Urias has an average fastball velocity of 93 mph and an 86 mph slider that can be devastating at times. However, he still hasn’t shown any consistency.

Urias 2016 regular-season stat line: 5-2, 3.39 ERA, 84 strikeouts, 77 IP.

Something Dodgers fans should be worried about Urias is that he has never thrown more than six innings in a game in his career. It is unlikely Roberts will expect much more of him in a postseason game. That will force the Los Angeles bullpen to do even more work; something nobody wants to do in a long series.

Javier Baez swings and connects on a home run in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS against the Giants.

It is also always a toss up as to how a batter with relatively little experience against a pitcher is going to react. Without much of a book on him, it can be hard to hit a new pitcher. On the flip side, the pitcher doesn’t have the book on the hitters in that situation either.

Against the Cubs, in two starts, Urias was 1-1 with a lackluster 4.91 ERA.

Likely Game 4 Lineup and Stats Against Urias:

  1. Dexter Fowler – 2-for-5, K
  2. Kris Bryant – 2-for-6, HR
  3. Anthony Rizzo – 2-for-5, K, RBI
  4. Ben Zobrist – 1-for-2, K
  5. Addison Russell – 0-for-5, 3 K’s
  6. Javier Baez – 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI
  7. Willson Contreras – 1-for-2
  8. Jason Heyward – 2-for-3, HR, RBI

That lineup has had pretty good luck against Urias, going a combined 12-for-32 (.375) in two games. In a limited number of at bats, the team also took him deep three times, something that is especially problematic in October.

Comparing Urias and John Lackey:

The pitcher opposing Urias will be the Cubs’ John Lackey and he couldn’t be more different. Lackey has plenty of regular season and postseason experience and will turn 38 on October 23. He is a bulldog that manager Joe Maddon will need to go deep into the game.

John Lackey throws the ball in a Cubs regular season game.

For those of you scoring at home, that means Lackey was almost an adult when Urias was born. He made his major league debut when Urias was five years old.

The differences in these two pitchers’ experience in the playoffs is pretty crazy:

Urias: 1-0, 1 appearance, 2 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 1 K, 2 BB’s

Lackey: 8-5, 24 appearances, 131.1 IP, 123 hits, 47 ER, 103 K’s, 41 BB’s

Everyone has to get their start somewhere, and Urias will have to do it against a guy that started a long time ago. In October, there is no telling how Urias will perform, but the contrast between he and Lackey is an interesting one to keep an eye on.

One team will be up 2-1 entering Game 4, so it will be a huge game. A 20-year-old will hold the weight of the Dodgers’ playoff hopes on his left shoulder. Again, what were you doing when you were 20-years-old?

Probably not something with as much pressure as Urias will face on Wednesday.

[Featured Image by Kathy Willens/AP Images]