2021 NLCS: Julio Urías misuse, costing the Dodgers two games
Julio Urías was magical out of the bullpen for the Dodgers during the 2020 playoffs. And, to be fair to Dave Roberts, he did manage that 2020 postseason to near-perfection. If we are going to dissect his mistakes, we have to acknowledge that his management of the pitching staff in 2020 was fantastic.
Roberts tried to replicate that magic in 2021 by bringing Julio Urías out of the bullpen in the NLCS even though he was established as one of the team’s best starting pitchers. Los Angeles did not have the starting pitching depth to make this move, especially with Clayton Kershaw not pitching at all in the postseason due to injury.
Urías pitched in Game 5 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, throwing 59 pitches in four innings of work. His pitch count remaining low gave Roberts the chance to bring Urías out of the bullpen in between starts for Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.
While starting pitchers typically throw bullpen sessions between starts, there is a reason they are bullpen sessions that don’t mean anything and aren’t playoff games. On just two days’ rest, Urías was not sharp, allowing two runs in the eighth inning that ultimately allowed Atlanta to walk the Dodgers off in the ninth.
Urías still had a scheduled start on October 20, meaning he was pitching again on just two days’ rest. Once again, he was not sharp, allowing five runs in five innings en route to a 9-2 blowout loss.