Not much was known about Julio Urias when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the then-16-year-old out of Mexico in August 2012.
Since joining the organization, Urias skyrocketed through the Dodgers’ Minor League system, becoming one of the team’s top prospects and making his MLB debut at just 19 years old in 2016.
In 2020, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts relied on Urias to get the 16 most important outs of the season — and he did just that. The southpaw pitched the final three innings of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series and the final 2.1 innings of the World Series while allowing no runs or hits.
This season, Urias has cemented his role as a key member of the Dodgers’ rotation as he has blossomed into a fourth ace for the team.
“The bar has been raised for Julio. The way he goes deep into games, the expectation to win every time he takes the mound, being able to manage and navigate, minimize damage, he did that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Urias after his start against the San Francisco Giants.
“There was traffic throughout. I thought the fastball command was in and out, I thought the changeup was hit or miss, the breaking ball was good.
“When you don’t have everything working, to still go out thee and punch eight, walk none and give up a run in 5.2 (innings) against a very good ballclub is pretty impressive. Again, this is where Julio has raised the bar for himself and this is what we expect of him.”
In that start against the Giants, Urias picked up his MLB-leading 16th win of the season after throwing 5.2 innings and only allowing one run.
The outing before against the Atlanta Braves, Urias became the sixth Dodgers pitcher in history to reach the 15-win mark before any other hurler.
“It says a lot. I’m still from the school that wins matter,” Roberts said. “It’s still the object of the game, so when Julio takes the mound and goes deep enough to get a decision, more importantly, a win, that means something.
“People try to minimize a starting pitcher win-loss; the win matters. Certain guys have the propensity to win the baseball game when they take the mound and some guys find a way to lose games. Julio has done the former, which is great.”
So far this season, Urias has posted 3.7 wins above replacement and owns a 3.11 ERA and 3.31 FIP while striking out 26.7% of hitters and walking only 5.1% in 27 starts.
Urias has already set his career high in innings pitched this season at 156.1 as the Dodgers have taken extra precautions with their young pitcher in previous seasons.
Despite throwing nearly 80 more innings than he has in any other season, L.A. believes they are handling his workload well as Urias continues to grow stronger.
“I think we’ve done a very good job, and obviously Julio is the main reason behind it, as far as managing him. How you get to whatever arbitrary number that we come up with or anyone comes up with, I think how you get there is most important,” Roberts said.
“I think the way we’re doing it as far as managing each start and looking at it separately as far as days off prior and how many days of rest he is going to get with the next one.
“Overall, in a vacuum, it’s going to be considerably more than he’s ever pitched but I do think with Julio’s work, another year of age, getting stronger, being more efficient and how we attack each start, I think is going to allow us to get through it.
“There’s no more respite for him. We’re going to go through the end of October and we expect him to be a big part of it and be fresh.”
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