The bright lights of Dodgers Stadium are beckoning to a struggling phenom.
After two mediocre starts on the road, 19-year-old Julio Urias will make his first career start in the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine against the Colorado Rockies tonight at 7:10 p.m.
Against the New York Mets in his opening outing on May 27, Urias didn’t make it out of the third inning, allowing three earned runs on five hits while walking four batters in a no-decision effort. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts elected to give Urias an extra day of rest and start him on Jun. 2, where he arguably faired better against the team with the best record in Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs. Urias worked his fastball and curve ball command better than his last start and pitched five innings, giving up five runs while only walking one Cub and striking out four while earning his first career loss as the Dodgers fell, 7-2.
This isn’t the first time that Urias has struggled at any level of baseball. In AAA-Oklahoma City, Urias’ first two starts made his ERA blow up to 18.69. After two starts in the major leagues, Urias has an ERA of 9.39.
How many innings should Urias pitch tonight?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) June 7, 2016
The young man from Culiacán, Sinaloa, México has been compared to Dodgers legendary pitcher Fernando Valenzuela ever since Los Angeles signed him as an amateur free agent in 2012. Both players came from remote locations in the country and made their debuts with the Dodgers at young ages. The difference? Valenzuela made his debut as a reliever in 1980 and pitched 17 and two-thirds innings in ten appearances while earning two wins before transitioning to one of the greatest single-season efforts in Dodgers history. Urias has had two starts under his belt and has given up more home runs in those two outings than Valenzuela did in his first nine career starts in 1981.
So as Urias embarks on his journey through the tunnel tonight, it is imperative that he gets off to a strong start in the first few innings as he settles down. The Rockies like to run up the scoreboard in a hurry, recording the fifth-most runs in baseball while ranking third with a collective .271 batting average. With formidable sluggers in the lineup like third baseman and Newport Beach, CA native Nolan Arenado (18 HR, .627 slugging percentage) and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (13 HR, .510 slugging percentage), Urias will have to deal with the challenges of facing a lineup similar to Chicago’s in the sense that the baseball can leave the park in a hurry.
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