Dodgers @ Pirates May 9, 2022: Urías opens three-game series in Pittsburgh

After a clean sweep of the Cubs (9-18), the Dodgers now have the best record in baseball at 19-7, and are the winners of six consecutive games. The Pirates (11-16) aren’t a particularly scary team in any regard, and are the kind of team that the Dodgers SHOULD be able to consistently beat. Julio Urias will be on the mound to open the final series on the road, before heading home for eight consecutive games at home. This series features some strange start times, with the first two games starting at 3:35 PM PDT and the final game starting at 9:35 AM PDT.

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3:35 PM Pittsburgh
RF Betts 3B Hayes
1B Freeman (L) DH Reynolds (S)
SS T. Turner 2B Chavis
DH J. Turner 1B Tsutsugo (L)
LF Taylor SS Castillo
CF Bellinger (L) LF Gamel (L)
3B Alberto RF Suwinski (L)
C Barnes CF Marisnick
2B Lux (L) C Perez (L)
P Urías (L) P Quintana (L)

Justin Turner will be the DH again, while Max Muncy and Will Smith each have the day off. Against the left-handed Quintana, the only lefties in the Dodgers lineup will be Gavin Lux, Cody Bellinger, and Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers are 18th in wRC+ against left-handed pitchers at 96, while the Pirates are 23rd at 89. Not great for either team. For Pittsburgh, Ke’Bryan Hayes (193 wRC+), Michael Chavis (147 wRC+), and old friend Yoshi Tsutsugo (126 wRC+) lead the team against left-handed pitching, while their best overall hitters have been Hayes (139 wRC+), Ben Gamel (138 wRC+), and Bryan Reynolds (113 wRC+).

Meanwhile for the Dodgers, their best overall batters have been Freddie Freeman (167 wRC+), Mookie Betts (137 wRC+), and the formidable Austin Barnes (180 wRC+, .972 OPS). All of Lux, Smith, Bellinger, and Chris Taylor sit between 113 and 118 wRC+. Betts had two hits yesterday, but struck out for the first time in his last eleven games. After a slow start, he’s been finding his groove as of late which is great to see. If you just remove his first four games and 19 plate appearances, he has a 158 wRC+, slashing .284/.385/.494, with 13 walks and just 11 strikeouts. Over his last fifteen games, he has a 192 wRC+, and 1.015 OPS. Locked in.

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Here’s how Quintana and Urías matchup.

Urias had his best start of the season last time out, allowing four hits with four strikeouts in six scoreless innings against the Giants. He needed just 65 pitches to do so, and looked to have his best command of the season. He allowed three runs on six hits and two walks in two innings in Colorado to start the year and has been exceptional ever since. However, a handful of factors show that Urías hasn’t been as good as he was last year where he finished seventh in NL Cy Young voting, but his 1.88 ERA thus far is hard to argue with. He’s been kept on a short leash, and pulling him before he finds his way into trouble has helped. It was pretty clear to see him fatiguing at the end of the 2021 season, so it does make sense to cap his workload this early into the year.

His BABIP allowed of .188 is the sixth lowest of 129 pitchers that have logged at least twenty innings. His career average is .279, so as that .188 BABIP begins to normalize, you’d expect his results to be worse than a 1.88 ERA moving forward. His strikeout rate is down 6% from 26.2% last year, while his command has faltered a bit as well, with an 8.5% walk rate compared to 5.1% last year. His fastball velocity averaged just 92.1 MPH last outing after generally increasing over his previous four. He’s down to a 92.3 MPH average, down from 94.1 last year. He doesn’t need that velocity back to be extremely effective however, he has 96th percentile fastball spin and 92nd percentile curve spin. It seems like an easy way to maintain this performance moving forward is just to regain a little bit of command.

Two starts ago, Quintana impressed with his best start of the year, featuring nine strikeouts and zero walks, however he followed that up with a mediocre start allowing two runs and four hits with just three strikeouts against the Tigers. Overall he’s been solid after a couple down years recently. He’s had a few changes to his arsenal so far this season, throwing his fastball at the lowest rate of his entire career down to 36.7%, with a huge uptick in changeup frequency, all the way to 31.4%, after a career high rate of 14.6% in 2021. He’s mainly scrapped his sinker, throwing it just 9.0% of the time now, compared to 18% in 2021, and previously above 20% for his entire career. Outside of those, he still has his big curve that he still throws roughly a quarter of the time. His curve is in the high 70’s, his changeup in the mid 80’s, and his fastball is sitting around 90 MPH.

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Dave Roberts in a very controversial and bold take, states that he enjoys when the team wins a lot of games.

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Ryan Pepiot is on the taxi squad and has a chance to start Wednesday’s game. Dustin is right, if the alternative is starting Robbie Erlin (no offense), just start Pepiot.

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Getting Andrew Heaney back would be huge, as it would round out the rotation again, and also he’d been a stud before going on the IL.

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First pitch is at 3:35 PM PDT on SNLA and is also the MLB.TV free game of the day for those outside of southern California.

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!