Urias to Make MLB History During Game 4 of the National League Championship Series

Julio Urias is ready to hit the mound while making history in the process…

The 20-year-old Mexican professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers will start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

Julio Urias

When he throws his first pitch, Urias will become the youngest postseason starting pitcher in Major League Baseball history, surpassing a mark previously held by Bret Saberhagen, when he took the mound as a 20-year-old in 1984.

Urias will be 20 years, 68 days old when he pitches in Game 4.

“Julio, I think that we expect him to just go out there and compete, use his pitch mix and go after these guys,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Give us a chance to win a baseball game. It’s what Julio’s done all year long.”

The Mexico native made his major league debut at the age of 19, when he took on the New York Mets in New York on May 27. It was a rough night, as he lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks.

Five days later, he made his first of two appearances against the Cubs and struggled again, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in five innings at Wrigley Field.

Urias rebounded to go 5-2 in his rookie season with a 3.39 ERA in 18 appearances, 15 of them starts. Taking out those first two outings, Urias posted a 2.73 ERA. In his second matchup with the Cubs, at home on Aug. 27, he gave up one run on six hits in six innings while matching a season high with eight strikeouts. He earned his fifth victory of the season in that game.

He will enter Wednesday’s outing, though, having been used sparingly down the stretch. Urias pitched just 14 innings in September as the Dodgers curtailed his innings. They had originally decided to move him to the bullpen in an attempt to limit his innings, but he has been on hand as a fourth starter since the postseason started.

He was not asked to start in the five-game NL Division Series, although he did pitch two scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ Game 5 victory, earning a spot in the NLCS.

Urias has thrown as many as 100 pitches just once this season and reached the 90-pitch mark just four times. Roberts said he is less concerned with pitch count this time around and will primarily monitor effectiveness.

“I think that we’ve kind of monitored his usage throughout the regular season, but I think right now for me, it’s not necessarily the pitch count,” Roberts said. “A lot of it is the stressful innings, too. It’s going to be a big game. So if he’s throwing the baseball the way we expect, then I’m not afraid to push him to help us win a baseball game.”

Perez Named Most Valuable Player of the 2015 World Series

It’s turned out to be a Royals year for Salvador Perez

Following the Kansas City Royals 7-2 victory in Game 5 of the World Series over the New York Mets, the 25-year-old Venezuelan catcher for the Royals was unanimously named the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 World Series.

Salvador Perez

Perez hit .364/.391/.455 in the series, going 8-for-22 at the plate with two doubles while scoring three runs with two RBIs.

In the Series-clinching win, Perez plated the tying run in the Royals’ ninth-inning comeback, then sparked their victory in the 12th inning with a leadoff single down the right-field line before being lifted for pinch runner Jarrod Dyson.

“He just had a phenomenal series,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “I think if I had one regret during the whole playoffs, [it] was I had to pinch run for Sal there in that inning. But it opened up the door for us to score five. I really wish that Sal could have been out there to jump in [closer Wade Davis‘] arms when we got the final out.”

Up to that point, Perez had caught every inning for the Royals in the series, but at times was nearly forced out of games by injuries that are the routine hazards of catchers at every level.

“What I always say, I think it’s part of my job,” Perez said. “Take a foul ball, a wild pitch.”

Perez took a foul tip off the mask in Game 4 of the AL

Division Series and AL Championship Series, and in Game 4 of the World Series he was staggered by a tip off his collarbone.

“He’s never going to say nothing,” said Yost, a former catcher. “He’s as tough as they come. You just know that even if you ask him, he’s going to tell you he’s fine, so no sense of asking him.”

“Now I don’t feel pain.”

Perez achieved a unique feat by driving in the tying run in the ninth inning of Game 5 one year after being the last batter in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, ending that game with a popup to Pablo Sandoval at third base.

Asked about that coincidence, Perez said, “I already forgot about last year. So I just enjoyed the moment now. In 2015, Kansas City is No. 1. Who cares about what happened last year?”

In Game 5, batting against Mets closer Jeurys Familia with Eric Hosmer on third base and one out, it was Perez’s grounder to third base that allowed Hosmer to score. The Royals’ first baseman scampered home, forcing an errant throw by Mets first baseman Lucas Duda after Perez was retired on third baseman David Wright‘s assist.

“You guys know what we’ve done all season,” Perez said. “We never quit. We never put our heads down. … We always compete to the last out. And that’s what we did tonight.”

Perez became the first catcher to win the MVP award since Pat Borders won it while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series, and the seventh catcher to win it in the history of the Fall Classic, joining Borders, Gene Tenace (1972, Oakland A‘s), Johnny Bench (1973, Cincinnati Reds), Steve Yeager (1981, Los Angeles Dodgers), Darrell Porter (1982, St. Louis Cardinals) and Rick Dempsey (1983, Baltimore Orioles). He also became just the second Royals player to win the award, joining starting pitcher Bret Saberhagen of the 1985 world champions.

Perez is also the second player born in Venezuela to win the award, joining Sandoval, who won it in 2012 with the Giants. He signed with the Royals organization when he was 16 years old.

“It’s unbelievable. I always say we feel like a family here,” Perez said. “We’ve got the same group, almost the same group [from] when I played my first year in 2007 in Arizona, in the Rookie league. It’s amazing to now win a World Series and see the same guys with you. It’s exciting.”