Dodgers @ Nationals May 25, 2022: Urías on the mound as the team goes for the sweep

The Dodgers (29-13) have taken the first two games of this three game series against the Washington Nationals (14-30), and they’ll go for the sweep with Julio Urias on the mound against the right handed Erick Fedde. The team has outscored the Nationals 19-5 this series, so hopefully it’ll be another easy game for them as they head to Arizona for four games starting tomorrow.

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1:05 PM Washington D.C.
SS T. Turner 2B Hernández (S)
1B Freeman (L) LF Thomas
3B J. Turner RF Soto (L)
DH Ríos (L) DH Cruz
CF Taylor 1B Bell (S)
2B Muncy (L) 3B Franco
LF Lux (L) C Adams
RF Alberto CF Robles
C Barnes SS Escobar
P Urías (L) P Fedde (R)

Hanser Alberto will make his second career start in right field as Mookie Betts has the day off. Cody Bellinger is also out today, and Austin Barnes will be behind the plate. Trea Turner will bat leadoff as Betts is out. Speaking of Betts, he’s been absolutely on fire as of late. If Manny Machado hadn’t been playing out of his mind this season, Betts would be the front runner for National League MVP. 40 games in for him, he’s theoretically on pace for 48 home runs, 176 runs scored, 120 RBI, and 10.8 fWAR. He’s reached base eight of ten times over the first two games of this series. Since 4/22, he’s slashed .336/.422/.716, good for a 215 wRC+. That puts him up to a 172 wRC+ on the season, which would be his second highest mark of his career, just behind his 2018 MVP season (185 wRC+). His 10.8 fWAR pace would put him just ahead of his mark that season (10.6). Machado has been better, no doubt about that, but his .416 BABIP leads to the idea that his offense hasn’t necessarily been sustainable, whereas with Betts at .297, it’s right in line with his career averages.

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Here’s how Urías and Fedde matchup.

In his last time out, Urías picked up the win in Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Phillies, scattering two hits over five scoreless innings. He continued his recent streak of strong command, striking out five while walking none. He was able to get some redemption for his start against the Phillies previously, where he gave up eight runs and four homers. He currently has that 2.63 ERA, with a 1.05 WHIP, but with just 31 strikeouts through 41.0 innings.

While he’s been able to limit runs for the most part as evidenced by his 2.63 ERA, he’s looked hittable in two of his last three starts, excluding his previous one against Philly. There has been plenty to like about his profile thus far, his walk rate is one of the best in the league at 4.9%, slightly lower than his mark last season at 5.1%, that naturally helps his WHIP remain low at 1.05 which goes a long way towards limiting runs. As long as his command holds, he’ll always be solid but he’s looked much more hittable this year with significantly diminished velocity. He averaged 94.1 MPH on his fastball last year, and after a slow start to the season averaging just 91.4 MPH on his fastball in his first start, his velocity had ramped up to 93.4 MPH in his start against the Pirates on 5/9. Since then however, it dropped down to 93.0 in his first start against the Phillies, and down to 91.4 MPH again in his last outing. He hasn’t issued a walk since the fourth inning in his start against the Diamondbacks back on 4/27, going four starts and a total of 25.0 innings since his last walk. That’s great! However, for myself personally, the lack of strikeouts thus far has been a little bit of a concern. He currently is averaging just 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings, down from 9.45 last season.

The best starter in baseball last year averaging less than seven strikeouts per nine innings was Chris Flexen, with 6.26 k’s per nine, resulting in 3.0 fWAR, a 3.61 ERA, and a 3.89 FIP. In 2019, the best pitcher with a strikeout rate less than seven per nine was Sandy Alcantara at 6.89, resulting in 2.3 fWAR, a 3.88 ERA, and a 4.55 FIP. Strikeouts aren’t everything at all, but at a certain point your ceiling is capped without being able to get enough whiffs, relying on contact to get you out of dangerous situations. A good sign is the command returning, but look for an increased amount of whiffs to indicate he’s on the return.

Meanwhile, Fedde has been the best starter for the Nationals, which isn’t saying much as they have the second worst starting rotation in baseball by ERA at 5.92, well behind the league worst 6.69 ERA owned by the Reds, but well ahead of the third worst Pirates at 5.11. Their 5.25 FIP is the highest, as CIN drops down to 5.23. They’re allowing the highest batting average as well at .273, excluding the Rockies who play at the best park in baseball for batting average. There isn’t a lot of super exciting stuff about his profile thus far.

His last time out, he allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over 5.2 innings Friday, striking out four. He looked solid for most of Friday’s start, allowing just two hits and two walks through five shutout frames, before allowing a two-run homer resulting in his removal from the game. He’s registered a 2.73 ERA over his last five starts, lowering his season number down to 4.08. He has a three pitch mix, throwing each of a sinker, cutter, and curveball about a third of the time. The sinker sits in the low 90’s as his primary “fastball”, the curveball in the high 70’s, and the cutter slots between them in the 88 MPH range.

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Good on him for speaking out about the heartbreaking massacre taking place in Texas yesterday. I highly recommend reading this.

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Good to get the regular guys some rest.

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Once again, it’s good to see that Andrew Heaney is getting close to returning.

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First pitch is at 1:05 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!