Dodgers @ D’backs Sept. 26, 2021: Urias vs. Mejia; Wild Card Game likely

The Dodgers are two games back in the NL West with seven games to play. If they want to avoid the wild card game, they’ll have to win every game from here on out, and the Giants have to lose. That might be the toughest part, considering Frisco’s schedule is favorable in the last week of the season — Rockies today, vs. D’backs Tuesday-Thursday, vs. Padres to close the season. The odds are heavily against LA winning their ninth consecutive NL West title. The reward? They’ll get to play the Cardinals and their Devil Magic. Oh joy.

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1:10 p.m. Phoenix
RF Betts 2B Marte (S)
SS Seager (L) LF Ramos (S)
2B T. Turner CF Varsho (L)
1B Muncy (L) 1B Walker
LF Pollock C Kelly
CF Lux LF Peralta
3B Taylor 3B Vargas (S)
C Barnes SS Perdomo (S)
P Urias (L) P Mejia (R)

But back to today. Julio Urias gets the ball against another Humberto — this time, it’s Humberto Mejia. The D’backs have cornered the market on Humbertos. I wonder if Humberto Sanchez (Dodgers’ ninth-rounder in 2000) is busy.

Urias is having the most durable season of his career, and it might be his best. He’s sporting a 3.10 ERA, 3.18 FIP and a 21.4 K-BB% across 174 1/3 innings. And he’s doing it on the strength of his curveball and changeup. According to FanGraphs’ pitch values, among all qualified MLB starting pitchers, his curve is 20.8 runs above average — second to Charlie Morton‘s ridiculous 25.5. His changeup is 8.1 runs above average — fourth-best behind Lucas Giolitto, Sean Manaea and Zack Greinke.

But what about his fastball? It has to be good, right? Nope! It’s -3.3 runs above average. Among the Top 10 starting pitchers in the NL (according to WAR), it’s the worst. Corbin Burnes‘ is -2.3, but everyone else is at least 1.8 RAA or better, with Zack Wheeler‘s 24.1 leading the way. Urias has never been described as a flamethrower, but he can run it up there at 97 MPH on occasion. But the fact he’s having his best season with his fastball being his worst pitch is pretty impressive.

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One roster move of note today.

You remember Andrew Vasquez, right? He made his Dodger debut in San Francisco on Sept. 3 in a game the Dodgers would lose in extra innings. He pitched two days later against the Giants — in a game the Dodgers would lose. He’s obviously bad luck, small sample size be damned!

But it makes some sense and also indicates the Dodgers’ bench is relatively healthy — Cody Bellinger‘s ribs notwithstanding. They wouldn’t send Luke Raley out if they weren’t confident in the outfielders’/bench players’ health.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.