Urias may have inside track on NLDS Game 4

Dodgers' rookie lefty returning to starting role on Thursday

Urias may have inside track on NLDS Game 4

SAN DIEGO -- Julio Urias is a starting pitcher again.

For the past month, Dodgers management had insisted that heavy usage on the 20-year-old's left arm required him to be a reliever for the rest of the season. But manager Dave Roberts did a reversal on Tuesday, naming Urias to start Thursday night in San Diego and saying he was "still on the table" to be the fourth starter in the postseason.

"We've monitored his innings the second half of the season, and that's allowed him to get the start Thursday," said Roberts. "From that point on, we'll decide what makes sense for the postseason."

The Dodgers on Tuesday named Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda, in that order, for Games 1-3 of the National League Division Series.

Urias is 5-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 14 starts and three relief appearances. He has 74 innings with the Dodgers this year and 45 at Triple-A for a total of 119, with an unconfirmed target of around 125 for the season. But he's thrown only 11 innings since Aug. 27, with his last start Sept. 13 at Yankee Stadium for 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

"You get into the postseason, you've got to go with your best," said Roberts. "Because we've been so mindful of his usage, we do a lot of studying of matchups, and if at the end of the day it's the best matchup and it makes sense, it's worth a discussion.

"What kept Julio in play, there were times we felt we could have pushed his innings more, but because we didn't and had other guys step up in that role, it's given us this flexibility. To see him take the mound as a starter is a good thing for us."

Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling and Jose De Leon (Wednesday night's starter) have all made September starts that could have gone to Urias.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.