Julio Urias of the Dodgers threw a bullpen session Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field. The 20-year-old left-hander is in line to start the fourth game of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, but Manager Dave Roberts remains unwilling to say so officially.
“Yeah, we haven’t made that decision yet,” Roberts said.
The reason: Urias could be needed to pitch long relief in Tuesday’s Game 3, also at Dodger Stadium. Left-hander Rich Hill will start that game and has not thrown more than 93 pitches in a start as a Dodger. Since his August acquisition, blisters on Hill’s fingers have been a constant consideration in determining his start days and lengths.
“As unpredictable as these games are, with Rich going Game 3, and just the potential with the blister, we’re kind of not confirming yet,” Roberts said. “Every game, we’ve still got to kind of figure out how to navigate.”
Urias pitched two scoreless innings in relief during the Dodgers’ Game 5 victory in a division series. The last time he threw more than 78 pitches was Sept. 2, and he has never thrown more than 100 in the majors.
But he is the club’s best option to start Game 4. Since the All-Star break, he is 5-0 with a 1.90 earned-run average.
But when asked Sunday about whether he had any mixed feelings about series, he loudly laughed.
“You’re not serious, right?’’ he said with a grin. “I’m a Dodger. I’m with the Dodgers. I can’t believe anybody would even ask me that. I don’t know how that is even a question.’’
However, he said a Chicago city official recently asked him the same question.
For the record, Walter is not sitting in his Cubs season seats for this series. He has been wearing a Dodgers sweatshirt and is firmly planted in the Dodgers section.
In the four full seasons that Walter’s Guggenheim Baseball has owned the team, the Dodgers have won four division titles and advanced to the NLCS twice.
Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler broke his belt on one of the two spectacular catches he made in Game 1 on Saturday.
“I’m still wearing the belt,” Fowler said Sunday. “I had to go fix it because I was making sick catches like that.”
Fowler’s catchers underscored the extraordinary effectiveness of the Cubs defense. The Cubs this season turned more batted balls into outs than any team since at least 1950, and at the same time shifted less than any other team this year.
That does not mean the Cubs disdain sabermetrics. Fowler, in his ninth major league season, improved his defense this year by playing deeper than he ever has. Manager Joe Maddon was not shy about explaining where the team got the idea to move Fowler back.
“Our nerds tell me about that,” Maddon said. “Our geeks that came to me with all that information.”
When Maddon was growing up, fans ripped managers just as they do now. Maddon heard plenty of second-guessing at a bar in his Pennsylvania hometown.
“The scrutiny was pretty much relegated to the length of the bar,” he said. “Now, with social media as it is, it’s international, basically.”
But so what if anyone with an Internet connection can rip him?
“I have no problem with it whatsoever,” he said. “I’m really happy people are actually watching. And the more people [that] can watch that want to scrutinize, please, tune in.”
Monday made the most memorable defensive play of his career at Dodger Stadium. In 1976, Monday was the Cubs center fielder when he swiped an American flag from two protesters who were preparing to set it on fire in the outfield.
Moura and Plaschke reported from Chicago. Shaikin reported from Los Angeles.