Dodgers @ Rockies September 21, 2021: Urías and Co. in Coors Field for final time this season

The Dodgers (96-54) won two of three games against the Cincinnati Reds (78-73) this weekend, and following an off day now play three games against the Colorado Rockies (70-79), at Coors Field. After this trip in Colorado, the team will head down to Arizona for their final series against the Diamondbacks (48-102), and follow that up with two tough series at home, against the San Diego Padres (76-73) and Milwaukee Brewers (91-59). As the team is still chasing the San Francisco Giants (97-53), unless the Dodgers win six in a row and the Giants do the opposite, those final six games against the Padres and Brewers will be important. The Brewers have clinched the NL Central, so hopefully they’ll just be coasting by then.

Overall, the team is 11-5 against the Rockies this season, most recently losing two of three against them in Los Angeles at the end of August. The Dodgers were destroying their competition at the time, in the midst of a 16-2 stretch and a nine game winning streak, when they proceeded to lose that series, at home. Colorado typically plays well at home, with a 45-27 record in Colorado, while the Dodgers have the fourth best road record at 44-31 (.547), and are 5-2 in Colorado this season. Julio Urias starts on the mound for the Dodgers, as Antonio Senzatela gets the ball for Colorado.

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5:40 PM Denver
CF Betts CF Hampson
SS Seager (L) 2B Rodgers
2B T. Turner SS Story
1B Muncy (L) RF Blackmon (L)
3B J. Turner 1B Cron
C Smith C Díaz
LF Lux (L) 3B McMahon (L)
RF Raley (L) LF Vilade
P Urías (L) P Senzatela (R)

After not playing in the last two games of the Cincinnati series due to a non-displaced rib fracture, Cody Bellinger has been placed on the 10-Day Injured List retroactive to 9/18, and will be eligible to return for the final two series of the regular season. Poor guy can’t catch a break. Due to this, Luke Raley is back and will start in right field as Mookie Betts starts in center field. In 65 plate appearances with the Dodgers this season, Raley has been slashing .169/.246/.237, for a .483 OPS and 35 wRC+, with 22 strikeouts and two walks. Just brutal. However, in 67 games in Triple-A, he’s slashing .295/.394/.579, for a .973 OPS and 138 wRC+. Just a reminder that going from Triple-A to the big leagues is a huge jump. Hopefully he can perform more like he has in the minors this year. Speaking of Betts, he has an eleven game hitting streak, slashing .372/.440/.581 with a 175 wRC+ over those last 50 plate appearances, with four walks and three strikeouts.

Additionally since returning to the big league club, Gavin Lux has played in eight games, and over his last seven, has eleven hits, slashing .500/.566/.773, with three walks and three strikeouts. Does he also have a .556 BABIP over that stretch? Yes. Do I care? No. He’s been making frequent hard contact, limiting his whiffs, and putting the ball in play and letting his speed work for him. Yes, he won’t continue to find as many holes going forward, but this is the best he’s looked all year. Corey Seager has an .889 OPS and 141 wRC+ since coming off the Injured List on 7/30. He’s slashing .338/.450/.569 for a 1.019 OPS and 176 wRC+ over his last 20 games and 80 plate appearances, with 13 walks and nine strikeouts.

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Here’s how Urías and Senzatela matchup.

Last Wednesday against Arizona, Urías went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out five. He threw just 76 pitches which was later identified as a pre-determined game plan, and he managed to pick up his MLB leading 18th win, improving his record to 18-3. The team is now 23-6 in games Urías starts. His velocity was down a tick in his last start, possibly due to general fatigue, having more than doubled his previous high in regular season innings, which stood at 79.2 innings. His fastball averaged 92.8 MPH last time out, compared to 94.1 MPH on the season, and 94.5 MPH in his prior start.

He’s faced Colorado three times this year with limited success, which has been a rarity for Urías. In those three games, he’s totaled 18.2 innings pitched, with a 4.34 ERA, 4.64 FIP, and 1.13 WHIP. Over his last ten starts, he’s thrown 56.1 innings, with a 1.44 ERA, 2.49 FIP, and a 0.91 WHIP, holding batters to just a .193 batting average. Among qualified starters in the National League, Urías is seventh in fWAR at 4.3, ninth in ERA at 2.99, seventh in FIP at 3.24, sixth in WHIP at 1.03, and has the second lowest walk rate at 5.2%. He’s been exceptional, and with a league leading 18 wins, he will most definitely receive some middle of the road Cy Young votes.

Senzatela has now faced the Dodgers three times this season, and has had both of his worst two starts against the team, as well as his best. In his first two starts against the team, he went a total of six innings, allowing eleven earned runs on 14 hits and three walks, while striking out four. In his last start against them, it took him just 90 pitches to go seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Last time out, he allowed two runs on seven hits and no walks with seven strikeouts through six innings against Atlanta. That makes seven consecutive quality starts for him, over which he has a 2.60 ERA, 3.27 FIP, and a 1.02 WHIP.

Additionally, he’s been better at home, with a 3.89 ERA, 3.50 FIP and a 1.19 WHIP at home, compared to 4.27 ERA, 3.82 FIP and a 1.41 WHIP on the road. All solid numbers for pitching at Coors Field half the time. His 51.8% ground-ball rate is the sixth highest, helping him keep the ball in the park and limit damage at the notoriously hitter friendly Coors Field. He allows hard contact, but features the third lowest walk rate in baseball at just 4.8%, while his 16.4% strikeout rate is the fourth lowest. He’s an interesting pitcher, because he doesn’t generate whiffs, but in return doesn’t issue free bases. He allows balls in play but manages to mostly keep them on the ground, with the end result being a slightly above average starter.

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Having Tony Gonsolin and Clayton Kershaw back is a huge help to the team, and Dave Roberts seems to be managing their usage well heading into the final weeks of the regular season.

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Having AJ Pollock back soon will be huge, especially with Bellinger out for the next week and Chris Taylor still dealing with neck issues.

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Like I mentioned earlier, with this being retroactive to 9/18, Bellinger will be available to return for the final two series of the regular season.

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First pitch is at 5:40 PM PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!