Braves @ Dodgers 2021 NLCS Game 4: Urías on the mound as the team attempts to even the series

After an incredible comeback in the eighth inning last night, the Dodgers beat the Braves by a score of 6-5, winning their first game of the series. Going down 3-0 in the NLCS to a strong Braves team would’ve likely been the end of the postseason for the Dodgers, but with the Braves inability to close the game last night, the Dodgers can change the feeling of the entire series with a win tonight. Julio Urias will be on the mound, looking to keep the Braves’ offense quiet while his own offense has a chance to put some runs on the board. The 23 year-old Huascar Ynoa was scheduled to start tonight, but was scratched before the game with right shoulder inflammation. The right-handed veteran Jesse Chavez will start in his place. The team will look to run with the momentum from that win last night and even the series.

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5:08 PM Los Angeles
SS Swanson RF Betts
1B Freeman (L) SS Seager (L)
2B Albies (S) 2B T. Turner
3B Riley C Smith
LF Rosario (L) CF Lux (L)
CF Duvall 3B J. Turner
RF Pederson (L) 1B Bellinger (L)
C d’Arnaud LF Taylor
P Chavez (R) P Urías (L)

Mookie Betts continues to lead this team offensively this postseason, slashing .412/.475./529, a 1.004 OPS and 174 wRC+, with five walks and five stolen bases with just two strikeouts. If there was an ounce of consistency behind him in the lineup, his performance would not go unnoticed, but he’s been constantly left on either first or second base. Luckily in the last two games, the team has started with Betts reaching base, followed by a Corey Seager two run home run. They should run that play again today. Will Smith is now in the clean up spot as he should be, as he’s quietly been slashing .313/.436/.656 this postseason, with a 1.092 OPS and 181 wRC+, with five extra base hits, seven walks, and just five strikeouts. Trea Turner has been 6-36 over the NLDS and NLCS, with ten strikeouts, and is yet to walk this postseason in a total of 40 plate appearances. He’s also hit the ball hard a handful of times and hasn’t found holes, and if he keeps that up and elevates the ball, he’ll have better results soon. Gavin Lux is batting fifth and playing center field once again, despite the costly error yesterday. He’s had just three hits this postseason, however he’s seemingly always put together great plate appearances, and has a .438 OBP with four walks and just two strikeouts. Over the NLDS and NLCS, Justin Turner has two hits, seven strikeouts, and just two walks, with a .268 OPS. Very bad. Cody Bellinger is now slashing .292/.393/.458, good for an .851 OPS and 128 wRC+. Over his last six games he has just three strikeouts with two walks and every ball in play seems to be hit hard. After a bit of a cold stretch in the NLDS, Chris Taylor has been a reliable bat in the NLCS, going 5-9 with three walks, three strikeouts, and three stolen bases.

If the offense clicks, they’re in business. The issue is that’s been a big IF.

As a team, the Braves didn’t hit particularly well against left-handed pitching this season, but as it’s the postseason now, the only thing that really matters is how the starting eight position players hit. Overall, the Braves were 22nd in wRC+ at 99, and their OPS of .754 was 14th as they play in a relatively hitter friendly park. The best hitters on the Braves against left-handed pitching are as follows, Ronald Acuna Jr. (175 wRC+, 1.067 OPS) who again they’re lucky they don’t have to face, Ozzie Albies batting from the right side (144 wRC+, .940 OPS), Travis d’Arnaud (127 wRC+, .832 OPS), and Jorge Soler (127 wRC+, .861 OPS), who is currently out with COVID-19 protocol.

Also in this lineup is Adam Duvall, who’s had reverse splits this season, with a 64 wRC+ and .610 OPS against LHP, compared to a 117 wRC+ and .827 OPS against RHP. Eddie Rosario is also starting, with a 76 wRC+ and .651 OPS against LHP, compared to a 107 wRC+ and .778 OPS against RHP. Joc Pederson haș a 109 wRC+, and .784 OPS against LHP with the Braves which is relatively surprising, and it makes sense why they’d obviously keep him in the lineup. As good as Austin Riley had been for the Braves this season, he also did the majority of his damage against right-handed pitching, with a 146 wRC+ and .941 OPS against them, compared to a 98 wRC+ and .752 OPS against LHP. Dansby Swanson doesn’t have any notable splits, but maybe they like him at the top of the order better for matchup purposes. Finally, Freddie Freeman had a 103 wRC+ and .760 OPS against left-handed pitching, compared to a 148 wRC+ and .949 OPS against left-handed pitching.

This Braves lineup is still dangerous, but Urías should have an advantage today.

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Here’s how Urías matches up against a couple guys the Dodgers are likely to see.

2021Julio UríasA.J. MinterDrew Smyly
Innings185.252.1126.2
ERA2.963.784.48
FIP3.132.695.11
BAA.216.220.264
WHIP1.021.221.37
K%26.2%25.8%21.4%
BB%5.1%9.0%7.5%

With Urías, obviously he gave up two runs in relief in Game 2, giving up singles to both Rosario and Albies, and a double to Riley, in a game Urías had no business even pitching in. During the regular season, he had a 2.58 ERA and 0.95 WHIP on four days or “regular” rest in 12 of his 32 starts, and a 3.29 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 17 starts on five days rest. We don’t know his exact routine for throwing bullpens or how pitching on short rest affects someone like Urías, but if you were to ignore his unnecessary relief appearance in Game 2, starting today would be five days rest, or one extra day. In his first two appearances this postseason, he totaled nine innings allowing two earned runs on just six hits and one walk while striking out ten.

One thing to look out for is if his stuff is still as sharp and moving as much as it usually does. Yesterday, Buehler seemingly couldn’t spin the ball like he had in the regular season.

Last night, Chavez wasn’t able to limit the damage after Luke Jackson gave up the three-run game tying home run to Bellinger last night, as he came in and allowed a stolen base, a double, and a single before getting Will Smith to pop out with the bases loaded. Today makes his fifth appearance this postseason, and the third in this series. In Game 2 he also went one scoreless inning, totaling 3.1 scoreless innings pitched, on three hits and two walks this postseason. If Minter pitches, he will be making his third appearance in four days, and after throwing 16 pitches yesterday, it’s unlikely he provides more than a single inning unless the Dodgers keep his pitch count very low. This postseason he’s also totaled 3.1 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and one walk with six strikeouts. He threw 4.1 innings in the NLCS last season against the Dodgers, allowing two earned runs with eight strikeouts. He gave up a game tying home run in the sixth inning of Game 7 to a pinch hitting Kiké Hernandez.

The veteran lefty Smyly has had good years in his career, and unfortunately this was not one of them. One of those good years was in 2020 with the Giants, earning him a one year 11 million dollar deal with the Braves. He threw just 26.1 innings last season, but had a 37.8% strikeout rate, with just a 1.10 WHIP, 3.42 ERA, and insanely low 2.01 FIP. I don’t know how he managed that, even over just 26.1 innings, but he’s fallen back down to Earth this year. He had been a starter for nearly the entire season, but after a rough patch in August, he became more of a long relief option, with a high of 3.1 innings. He hasn’t pitched in a game since 10/2 and hasn’t thrown more than 46 pitches in an outing since August.

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Cool stuff here.

Informative piece on what has seemingly helped Bellinger at the plate as of late.

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Brim had a great piece on Kenley Jansen once again, and as he calls it, “900 words about one plate appearance”.

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Pretty cool.

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First pitch is at 5:08 PM PDT on TBS.

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!