Dodgers News: Andrew Friedman Touts Julio Urias As ‘Unsung Hero’
Julio Urias, 2021 NLDS
D. Ross Cameron/USA TODAY Sports

After Walker Buehler started on short rest to help the Los Angeles Dodgers force the San Francisco Giants to a Game 5 in the National League Division Series, the team was confident with their pitching plan as 20-game winner Julio Urias was set to take the mound at Oracle Park.

However, rather than Urias starting the elimination game, the Dodgers had him enter out of the bullpen. Corey Knebel again served as an opener, and Brusdar Graterol pitched the second inning before Urias entered the game.

He allowed a game-tying home run to Darin Ruf and went just four innings. The Dodgers then leaned on Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen and Max Scherzer to finish out the winner-take-all game.

Urias at the time garnered praise from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and teammates for his willingness to be flexible, and that’s grown to include compliments from president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, via SportsNet LA:

“For most pitchers we wouldn’t have done what we did in Game 5. But we went to him out of respect and explained it, and told him he had all the right in the world to say no. He was like, ‘Great. Whatever helps us win a game, I’m all in.’

“I think the unsung hero is definitely Julio. Not just the four innings he pitched, but his willingness and ability to handle that, and to set it up the way that he did, I can’t say enough good things about him.”

While Urias has openly expressed his desire to be a full-time starting pitcher over the past few seasons, it’s come with an understanding of a hybrid role and acceptance to do whatever the team is need of.

That remained the case after the NLDS, as Urias made another relief appearance in Game 2 against the Atlanta Braves before taking the mound for a start in the NL Championship Series.

Roberts accepted criticism with Urias’ decision

When explaining the Dodgers’ strategy of using an opener ahead of Urias, Roberts not only presented it as further highlighting his skillset but also embraced the potential for scrutiny if it didn’t pan out favorably.

“I think that you can’t do a job for fear of failure or potential criticism,” Roberts said. “I think that you have to do your job given whatever you feel is the best way to win the game. So I don’t think it’s riskier, I think it’s just different. Doesn’t mean it’s riskier, it’s different.

“But it does open up for potential criticism, which I’m imagining is already out there. But I feel great that we’re all aligned in this as an organization and the players are with us in lockstep. Now the bottom line is we still have to go out there and execute and make pitches. Win or lose, I know there’s going to be no excuses in our clubhouse, which for me matters most.”

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