Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías is one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. Many might not realize it, but just because that’s the reality doesn’t mean his status needs to be justified by LA fans demanding he wins the NL Cy Young award.
Yes, Urías leads the NL with a 2.12 ERA and 198 ERA+ heading into Tuesday night’s start. He’s going to make 31 starts on the year, pitch close to 180 innings, and likely finish with a sub-1.00 WHIP.
But the facts are the facts. Urias is eighth in WAR among NL pitchers, trailing Sandy Alcantara (the likely winner), Max Fried, Aaron Nola, Carlos Rodón, Max Scherzer, Zack Wheeler and Zac Gallen. Alcantara is so far ahead of the pack (8.1) that it’s almost a done deal. The left-hander also doesn’t even rank in the top 10 for innings pitched. He’s well outside the top 10 in strikeouts.
This isn’t taking anything away from Urías. He’s just not the Cy Young winner based on cumulative statistics. And it’s not like he’s in the midst of a unique narrative like Aaron Judge is in the AL, as he battles Shohei Ohtani for the prestigious MVP Award.
What the Dodgers have with Urías is even better than a Cy Young winner or Cy Young frontrunner; the 26-year-old is a postseason weapon unlike any of the other aforementioned NL pitching leaders.
Dodgers fans arguing Julio Urías for NL Cy Young are wasting time … because he’s a postseason legend
Let’s not forget the ultimate goal here, people! The Dodgers cannot waste this historic regular season by falling short in October. And even though LA is battling a ton of injuries on the pitching staff, they still have Urías, who is a horse when the games are filled with pressure.
Outside of his NLCS performance in 2021, which was a direct result of being overworked (he pitched over 200 innings total last year after his previous career-high in the bigs was 79.2), Urías has been a unique postseason weapon. He made his debut on the big stage back when he was 19. Since then, he’s recorded a 7-3 record with a 3.52 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 22 games (five starts), totaling 53.2 innings.
During the team’s 2020 World Series run, he was utilized as a starter and reliever, eventually closing out the clincher in Game 6 against the Rays after his solid Game 4 performance that was spoiled because of Brett Phillips’ heroics.
At this juncture, Urías has worked his way up to becoming the Dodgers’ Game 1 starter in a playoff series, which should be more important to LA fans than a Cy Young award.
Though he’s been a tremendous regular-season pitcher as well, he doesn’t have the counting stats to thrust him into the conversation. ERA and Adjusted ERA can only take you so far. Jacob deGrom didn’t have the best ERA when he won in 2019. Nor did Max Scherzer when he won in 2016 and 2017. Neither did Jake Arrieta with his 1.77 mark in 2015!
There’s much more that goes into consideration with the Cy Young award, and Urías doesn’t exactly have a “narrative” on his side by pitching behind the best offense in the league (by far).
But who cares? He has the best offense behind him for the playoffs, when it actually matters. He has the battle-tested track record to out-perform all of his NL counterparts when every single out is crucial and every second is magnified.
Isn’t that more valuable than some regular-season award that’s at mercy of whatever the writers feel at that point in time?