The Astros' postseason roster is finally out, and, to mild surprise, José Urquidy was actually on it.
I write mild surprise as I thought the will of Dusty Baker would edge James Click in carrying one of either Will Smith or Phil Maton (due to injury?) as the designated left-handed specialist. But, in a bit of a surprise twist, Houston instead opted to have both Luis Garcia and Urquidy on the ALDS roster.
The inclusion of Urquidy is an interesting development to me, as back on June 9, I wrote here about whether he had a Seattle Mariner problem, considering how well the opposition from the Pacific Northwest was hitting against him through earlier this season. Below are his numbers through June when pitching against this division rival.
First 75 plate appearances
At the time, I wrote whether the Mariners had picked up on something with Urquidy. Small sample hijinks? Or was he tipping his pitches, perhaps? The higher BABIP at least indicated that the results were likely not sustainable with enough exposure, as 75 plate appearances isn't a large enough sample to derive too much value. To some extent, regression was due. Perhaps it was just one of those suboptimal stretches that a pitcher experiences against the same opponent. After all, Urquidy wasn't that great at limiting hard contact and barrels this year, no matter who was standing in the batter's box. His, at times, uneven performance (3.94 ERA/4.60 FIP) in 2022 shouldn't surprise anyone. The Mariners could've capitalized where others sometimes failed.
Thankfully for Urquidy, his last two appearances against the Mariners — back-to-back in July — generated more optimal results.
Next 48 plate appearances
As I stated above, the sample size — this time, 48 plate appearances — don't necessarily indicate Urquidy figured it out when facing Seattle. But there was a somewhat expected regression in the batting average of balls in play to help stabilize his numbers. The concerning aspect of Urquidy's last two performances versus the Mariners was the lack of separation between his strikeout and walk rates. Even in this improved stretch of two starts, he issued free passes to four hitters compared to striking out only six across 12 2⁄3 innings.
In short, I am primarily concerned about the Mariners' ability to lay off Urquidy's pitches when it matters. The elevated walk (8.9%) and lowered strikeout (12.2%) rates are the two constants in nearly all of his appearances against Seattle compared to his season-long averages of a 19.7% strikeout rate and a 5.6% walk rate. While it does take roughly 170 batters for a walk rate to begin to stabilize, it only takes about 70 batters for a pitcher's strikeout rate for that process to start. However, Urquidy's role on the ALDS roster is likely reserved for an emergency start or if Baker needs him to save the bullpen in a game that gets out of hand in the early innings.