It’s something a keen eye may have spotted last year. Before he was mowing down hitters in the postseason, Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias was working on some subtle changes in-season that would eventually help LA win its first World Series in 32 years.
Julio pitching out of the windup versus the stretch got more of the headlines in 2020 — something he did to combat first inning struggles throughout the season. But he was also tinkering with his pitches along the way. Particularly his curveball.
Earlier this week, the 24-year-old revealed a decision he made in the middle of last season that’s carried into this season.
“I made that adjustment a little bit last year,” Urias said through an interpreter. “I kind of got rid of that overhand, 12-6 curveball, and made it more of a little bit of a slurve. Ever since I made that adjustment it’s been a real effective pitch for me … I can change it up a little bit, obviously with the spot and the location. But that is my curveball now. It’s more of a slurve instead of a traditional slider-slash-overhand curve.”
Six of the million ways Julio Urias can beat you with a curveball. pic.twitter.com/3VqfP2xaQ8
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) October 14, 2020
Along with the grip change, Urias increased his curveball usage by 16.4%, leading to elite weak contact numbers. All told, he produced a .138/.179/.263 slashline across 23 postseason innings last October.
2019 12-6 Curveball
Julio Urías, Wicked 78mph Curveball. ? pic.twitter.com/MoKpUOv1Dn
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 7, 2019
2020 Harder Biting Surveball
Julio Urías, Nasty 81mph Curveball. ? pic.twitter.com/YH0norIHo5
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 28, 2020
Julio talked more about the pitch, adding that the grip was something he had utilized in the minor leagues and had developed a comfort level with. Moreover, the suggestion to bring the slurveball back into the equation came at the suggestion of Dodger catchers.
“The catchers will tell you what is an effective pitch, what’s working on any given night,” he said. “Being able to talk to them, communicate with them, it was something I was able to change to and use more effectively.”
Urias is slotted in as the number 4 starter in a deep Dodgers rotation in a season where finally, maybe, perhaps he might get the opportunity to start 25+ games. He’s further away from that 2017 shoulder operation and has a World Series title under his belt. If any time is good, it’s now.