There are four Cy Young Award winners on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster, and a potential fifth one in the making has a chance to make more of a case for himself Tuesday.
Julio Urias bounced from the bullpen to the rotation in his career as the Dodgers played it safe with his innings in the early part of his development. Now the left-hander leads the major leagues in victories less than two weeks before the end of the season, holding an 18-3 record with a sparkling a 2.99 ERA.
He has even struck out 180 batters against 35 walks, proving himself on a starting staff that includes Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Then there is award-winner David Price, himself bouncing from the Dodgers’ bullpen to the rotation and back to the bullpen this season.
In his quest to become the Dodgers’ first 20-game winner since Kershaw in 2014, Urias opens a three-game series at the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. Colorado will counter with right-hander Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.06 ERA).
The Dodgers (96-54) still are chasing the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. Los Angeles has won the division eight consecutive seasons but trails the Giants by a game as the regular season approaches the finish line.
The Dodgers have dominated the Rockies the last few years, but Colorado has started to punch back. After Los Angeles won eight straight in the matchup this season, the Rockies have won four of the last seven, including two of the last three in Los Angeles.
Senzatela was roughed up by the Dodgers in his first start of the season, but he got some revenge with a gem against them on Aug. 29. Senzatela pitched seven shutout innings that day in a 5-0 victory for the Rockies at Dodger Stadium and came away with confidence.
“One of the best games of my life,” Senzatela said. “I feel like I’m having a good season. Just need to keep fighting through and help the team to win again.”
Senzatela has compiled a 3.32 ERA in three September starts after he posted a 2.93 ERA in August. But he hasn’t fared well against Los Angeles in his career, going 4-5 with a 6.18 ERA in 13 outings (11 starts).
Urias’ 13 outings against the Rockies are his second most against any one team (20 vs. San Francisco). Against Colorado, he is 2-1 with a 5.26 ERA and three decisions came at Coors Field, where he holds a 5.45 ERA in eight games (six starts).
While the Dodgers already have clinched at least a wild-card spot in the playoffs, their goal is to win the division, and not just to keep their streak of NL West championships alive.
The Dodgers have no desire to play in a winner-take-all wild-card game against a team well below them in the standings. Heading into play Monday, the Dodgers had a 16-game lead on the second wild-card qualifier, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Los Angeles’ sense of urgency has shown with victories in eight of their last nine games, including two consecutive at wild-card contending Cincinnati this past weekend.
“We just have to take care of us and continue to play good baseball,” Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said. “If we just worry about us, good things are going to happen. I think that when we do that, ain’t nobody better than us in this league.”
–Field Level Media