When the Dodgers secured the final out of their first World Series clincher since 1988, the guy on the mound likely wasn’t someone many would have expected heading into the season. The feel-good, perfect ending to the story would have had Kenley Jansen striking out the last batter on a 94mph cutter high and away in the zone. Instead, 24-year-old Julio Urias was on the bump punching out 4 of the last 7 Tampa Bay Rays he faced to end it.
The same Julio Urias that sent the Dodgers to the World Series with his NLCS game 7 dominance over the Atlanta Braves a week before.
The Mexican-born left-hander dominated all postseason long in a bevy of roles for LA. In his 6 appearances, the club went 5-1 while he allowed just 3 earned runs over 23 innings pitched. While his regular season was fine (1-0, 3.27 ERA), it wasn’t without its challenges.
In a recent discussion on MLB Network, analyst Tom Verducci pointed to a mechanical change implemented by the team that set Urias up for a phenomenal stretch run in October.
You really have to give the Dodgers’ coaching staff — especially Mark Prior — a lot of credit here. [Urias] threw 1,215 pitches this year. The fastest pitch he threw was the last out of the World Series. Now how did they get there? A key change that Mark Prior made in September. The problem was, when he started his delivery, he kept over rotating his shoulder, so he was never consistent pitch to pitch. So Mark Prior said, ‘why don’t we go to the stretch position all the time?’
Tom Verducci on Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias
From then on, the Julio we saw punch out Willy Adames on 3 fastballs took it to another level. In his final 8 outings including the postseason, Urias had a 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings. His strikeout rate climbed while baserunners struggled to get aboard. It was a minor change that produced drastic results. And the result that took a monkey off the back of the franchise.