Dodgers' depth shouldn't squeeze Urías out of ASG

June 26th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ATLANTA -- How deserving is Julio Urías of making his first career All-Star Game?

It was the question posed to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts before Saturday’s game, one night after Urías dominated a potent Braves lineup for six innings to lower his season ERA to 2.48. Roberts said Urías’ first half should “certainly be considered” for the National League team. He added Urías should be a “no-brainer” if he continues to pitch well over his next few starts.

“I don’t know what value they put on certain numbers, I really don't,” Roberts said. “As we get closer to the All-Star Game, he should be in that consideration.

“But here’s the problem ...”

Roberts proceeded to say that he believes an issue Urías could run into is that a handful of his teammates could be selected. Roberts doesn’t think the All-Star selection committee likes to have too many players from the same team.

That idea has proven to be wrong, however, as there are no limits on how many selections one team can have in an All-Star Game. Just six years ago, the Cubs had seven All-Stars, including five starters. The Dodgers had six representatives in 2017 and five in '19.

But as Roberts continued to explain Urías’ All-Star case, he mentioned that Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner are close to being locks. Betts and Turner are leading the fan vote at their respective positions. Plus, Roberts said he’s going to campaign for Will Smith, who he believes is the best catcher in the NL.

On the pitching side, Roberts said Tony Gonsolin should be on the NL team after his two-month run. He also believes Clayton Kershaw should be on the team, giving him at least one more special moment at Dodger Stadium. In this hypothetical situation, that would give the Dodgers six All-Stars.

Despite Roberts’ hesitancy to firmly endorse Urías as an All-Star, the numbers and track record indicate that the Mexican left-hander has proven he’s deserving of representing the Dodgers in the Midsummer Classic.

After shockingly being dangled between the rotation and bullpen in last year’s postseason, Urías has responded by being one of the Dodgers’ most efficient starters in '22. With Andrew Heaney and Walker Buehler on the injured list, most of the responsibility has fallen on Urías. The left-hander has responded by allowing four earned runs and striking out 29 over his last 23 1/3 innings.

Urías has nine starts of six innings or more, two more than Gonsolin. He has also pitched 30 more innings than Kershaw.

“I’ve grown a lot,” Urías said in Spanish. “As a rookie, there are things you don’t control when it comes to the business side, and you just have to understand why they happen. You learn that more as you continue to develop in your career. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve stayed mentally strong, and that has allowed me to have all the success I’ve had.”

That success should earn him his first All-Star Game appearance, regardless of how many of his teammates make it. There’s a case to be made that Urías was just as deserving last season as he secured the league lead in wins. He was ultimately not selected because his ERA wasn’t low enough.

With the game being held in Los Angeles, having Kershaw, Betts and the other deserving players would be a welcomed event. Having a Mexican-born pitcher representing the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium would be a moment local fans would remember for a long time.

Both ideas would be special. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

“That would be a dream come true,” Urías said. “For some reason, God didn’t want me to be part of the All-Star Game last year. But hopefully, this year is different and I’m able to celebrate with my people, and I just need to wait to see what happens.”