The casuals saw him throw the last strike of the World Series. The enthusiasts know his potential is yet to be unlocked. With Opening Day just a month away, I feel the need to warn the casuals: Julio Urías’s performance in the playoffs was a sign of things to come, not a fluke. Don’t let him fly under the radar.
Behind Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, and David Price, he’s our number 5 starter. He doesn’t pitch like one, though.
In 239 Major League innings, Urías has a 3.20 career ERA and has allowed 7.9 hits per 9 innings. Last year, he ranked in the 91st percentile of hard-hit percentage, according to Baseball Savant. Put it all together, and it means the league has trouble squaring the ball up against him.
This year, expect Urías to throw more strikes early in the count, walk fewer batters, and learn how to put them away quickly as a result. These are not things he’s known for, and I think a part of that is because he does not have a great wipeout pitch. His strikeout rate has suffered for it, allowing Urías to fly under the radar amongst baseball’s young star pitchers.
Not for long.
Urías has four pitches in his arsenal and mixes them all pretty well. Out of these four pitches, I believe his changeup has the best chance to be that go-to strikeout pitch. Since he first came up to the bigs, his changeup’s vertical movement has increased the most in comparison to his other pitches.
This is key because more movement on a changeup means better chances for swings and misses, especially when following a fastball. With better sequencing and more camaraderie with the Dodgers’ catchers, I believe Urías will pitch more efficiently.
Hopefully, a combination of these things can put an end to Julio Urías’s first-inning woes and enable him to evolve into a dominant starting pitcher for the Dodgers. Their 5th.