Dodgers News: Julio Urias, Brock Stewart Validate Dave Roberts’ Confidence Against Cubs
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium resembled that of the postseason. It certainly didn’t come as a surprise when considering the opponents were the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs.

After taking two of three from the Giants to pad their lead in the National League West, the Dodgers next faced the team with the best record in the Majors. On top of the challenges the Cubs present, the Dodgers’ rotation was again out of sorts.

It wasn’t until Friday that manager Dave Roberts announced Julio Urias would start Saturday’s afternoon affair. Roberts then said after Friday’s game that Brock Stewart was taking the ball in series finale.

Despite starting a pair of rookies, the Dodgers won the final two games of the series to finish 4-2 on their homestand.

“We knew we matched up well with that club, and we played them toe-to-toe,” Roberts said Sunday. The decision to start Stewart over Jose De Leon surprised some, though Roberts explained it as Stewart giving the Dodgers “the best chance to win.”

He proceeded to turn in five scoreless innings and set a career high with eight strikeouts. “I’m very excited for Brock, for us. We believed in Brock. Sometimes people have to look inside the numbers and understand what this kid’s gone through this year,” Roberts said.

“We felt he would go out there and compete, and that’s exactly what he did against a very good club. Fastball, slider, change, he was really throwing each of those pitches with conviction. A young kid like that to be on a stage like this, this is playoff baseball.”

The rookie manager was equally complimentary of Urias, who matched career highs with six innings and eight strikeouts. It was the second consecutive start in which Urias completed six innings, and it was arguably the best outing of his young career.

“After that first inning he kept getting stronger and executing better. Against this team, that’s very professional and runs pitch counts up, to get six innings out of Julio was big, obviously.”

In his past five games (three starts), Urias is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 22.2 innings pitched. “I think he’s being more aggressive. Early on, he was trying to understand the Major League strike zone,” Roberts said of Urias’ recent success.

“With the stuff that he has, he can trust his stuff and be a little more aggressive in the strike zone.” Urias acknowledged he’s grown more comfortable with the strike zone, but is still searching for consistency.

“It seems I get lost a little bit between innings,” he said through a translator. “I’m trying to work on that and stay consistent.”

Overall, Roberts is pleased with the contributions the Dodgers have received from their young players this season. “When you look at the young players we’ve got: Stripling, Julio and Brock, who have come up in big spots for us, their pulse has been unwavered.”