As I said earlier this morning, randomness and execution of baseball activities is how series are decided, not Fundamental Forces of the Universe. But it is weighted randomness, so it’s probably worth dropping our nihilism for a few minutes and actually talk about the pitchers here.
Julio Urias is going for the Dodgers. As soon as he tosses his first pitch Urias — who turned 20 in August — will become the youngest pitcher to ever start a playoff game. I was somewhat surprised by that, as clubs used to sign, like, grade schoolers during the World Wars. I was pretty sure an actual zygote started Game 3 for the New York Giants in the 1917 World Series, after which he was paid in Liberty Cabbage. Guess not!
Urias has grown up pretty fast this year. He faced the Cubs back on June 2 in only his second big league start. He didn’t do so hot that day, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits in five innings. He faced Chicago again, this time at home, on August 27. That day he won the game, allowing one run while striking out eight and scattering six hits over six innings.
The Cubs are going with someone a bit more venerable: the 37-year-old John Lackey. As we noted during the division series, Lackey has more playoff experience than any active pitcher. He’s 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 playoff appearances. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers this year.
The calculus for each team here is pretty simple. For the Dodgers it’s all about getting enough innings out of Urias so that the bullpen isn’t overworked both tonight and for the remainder of the series. For the Cubs: figure out how to hit the ball again, which they haven’t been doing all the past couple of games. Maybe that’s due to fate and destiny and some sort of magic. I’m inclined to believe, however, that it’s a function of Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill being really good pitchers. Tonight we’ll see what Urias has got.