From the outset of his start on Friday night, Oklahoma City Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias was hellbent on making sure that he wasn’t going to have a repeat performance of his last outing. In that outing, Urias gave up four runs, including two home runs, in five innings. On Friday evening, Urias only was ever in trouble one time all night. He commanded his pitches, got easy outs, and was fantastic.
The Dodgers have to be loving what they’re seeing out of the youngster. 54 of his 79 pitches went for strikes, and he generally commanded both sides of the strike zone with his fastball before then calling upon his slider and changeup to give batters even more trouble. There were only four well-struck balls against Urias during the five innings, and one of them led to a run being scored. So, let’s examine his start.
One of the things I did when watching Urias’ start was take notes. It helps me keep track of certain things that I’m interested in. For instance, the very first pitch that Urias threw was a strike. It was a common theme all night long as the left-hander threw a first-pitch strike to 15 of the 19 batters that he faced during the five innings that he happened to pitch. Getting in front early enabled him to dictate the tempo rather than vice versa.
On top of that, the Memphis Redbirds, St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate, attempted 36 swings. Well, 35 if you don’t count the one bunt they had. Either way, we’re going with 36. Of the 36 swings, they swung and missed at 13 pitches while fouling off another 13. That means they only put ten balls in play, and seven of those ten ended up in outs. Six of the ten they put into play were with pretty weak contact, and only four of the ten were hit with any gusto.
Julio Urias racked up eight strikeouts during his five innings, and six of the eight came from a batter swinging and missing. He registered four strikeouts with his fastball, three with his slider, and one with his changeup. Urias’ ability to use all three pitches in any count was prevalent throughout the game. On several occasions, Urias would throw a breaking ball when behind in the count in order to keep hitters off-balance. The other big part was that he kept the ball down for most of the game except for the rare occasion when he’d elevate a fastball.
There wasn’t really any trouble for Urias outside of a stretch in the fourth inning where he gave up a two-out, two-strike double to right-center to kickstart a little rally for Memphis. He then walked the next batter before giving up another two-out hit, this one a punched single to left field on a slider, that brought home the only run the Redbirds would score. Still, it’s hard to hold that against him considering how he pitched in the other four innings.
So far on the season, Urias has pitched 15.0 innings and given up five earned runs. That’s good for a 3.00 ERA. He also has a 2-1 record, and he’s given up just 11 hits and two walks while fanning 20 batters. Urias has a 0.87 WHIP and is allowing opponents to hit just .196 against him. Throughout the first three starts, and especially on Friday night, Urias made batters swing at his pitches rather than the ones they wanted. It led to an easy night’s work. It seems like plenty more nights like this will be in store for him in the near future, and the Dodgers must be loving his progress thus far.