One day before the end of the 2021 regular season, a pair of pitchers will have one last chance to make their case for the National League Cy Young Award.
Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes (11-4, 2.29 ERA) will square off against Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias (19-3, 3.01) on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
The pair will take the mound one day after Los Angeles left-hander Clayton Kershaw exited with left forearm discomfort. The Dodgers could know as early as Saturday if their three-time Cy Young winner is out of the upcoming playoffs.
In the meantime, Burnes and Urias each are poised to accomplish a former Kershaw feat.
Burnes is looking to lock down the NL ERA title and has the lowest mark in the majors. He is just one of seven major league pitchers with an ERA under 3.00. Kershaw has been an ERA champion five times in the NL and led the majors in four of those seasons.
Urias will end the season with the most wins in baseball, but still is looking to become the Dodgers’ first 20-game winner since Kershaw in 2014.
While the Brewers (95-65) have little for which to play as the NL Central champions — they will open the NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves — the Dodgers still harbor visions of a ninth consecutive division title. They trail the first-place San Francisco Giants by two games with two to play.
The Dodgers (104-56) have done all they can of late; it’s just that the Giants won’t relent. Los Angeles has won 16 of 19 games after Friday’s 8-6 come-from-behind victory over the Brewers, but gaining ground has been difficult.
If they are discouraged, they haven’t shown it. The Dodgers hit 11 home runs in two games against the San Diego Padres before the Brewers arrived in town. They hit three more Friday, with Trea Turner hitting two, including a grand slam, to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. Turner leads the National League with a .327 batting average.
“We’re swinging the bats as well as we have done all year collectively,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s nice when you can get behind but still put up some crooked numbers to come back and win a ballgame. It’s up and down the lineup.”
Urias hopes to do his part, taking a 3-1 record and a 2.48 ERA against the Brewers in five lifetime starts into Saturday’s game. In 6 1/3 career playoff innings against Milwaukee, Urias has given up one run.
Burnes is 1-0 with a 9.45 ERA in three career appearances (one start) against the Dodgers in his career, but a better indicator of what might be ahead Saturday is his 9-0 record over his past 18 starts with a 2.28 ERA. The Brewers have won each of Burnes’ past 12 starts.
Burnes will enter off a dominating outing against the New York Mets on Saturday when he gave up one run on five hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts. He has 34 strikeouts over his past three starts.
“Corbin’s having an incredible season, a Cy Young-worthy season, there’s no question about it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s been amazing all year, but it feels like he’s even picking it up a little bit here as we kind of go down the stretch. It’s what the great ones do, and he’s a great one right now.”
–Field Level Media