Before he threw the regular season pitch this season, Julio Urias took a 3–0 lead.
This cycle continued from there.
The Ureas took a 3–0 lead in Colorado in the eighth inning and won their first of 20 victories. He became the first man to do so in the National League since Max Scherzer for Washington in 2016.
There was no countdown or trumpet, as a pitcher’s W is considered a relic, like a Polaroid or single-wing.
Why, see the runs he scored. Six times in those 32 starts, the Dodgers scored nine or more runs for the Urias. When he was on the mound and his stats extrapolated through 27 outs, the Dodgers scored 6.4 runs per start. He won eight times when he didn’t have a good start.
That means Ureas isn’t a serious Cy Young Award candidate like teammates Scherzer and Walker Buehler. This doesn’t lower him among the Dodgers.
He has enduring credibility after knocking down the last nine batsmen in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves, and then did the same in Game 6 with the final seven Tampa Bay batsmen to win the World Series. Maybe this smorgasbord of night races was fair compensation for Ureas.
Urius brings the ball to the final game of the Division Series on Thursday in San Francisco. On Sunday, he stood between the Dodgers and a two-game series deficit, giving the Giants one run in five innings and one in even when they deliberately went off AJ Pollock.
The Dodgers took a 2–1 lead on his departure, and then ran for a 9–2 victory. They are fine with Uriah’s Lucky Charms. Whenever he pitches, the other team finds it difficult to hit.
Ureas was sixth in the National League in the WHIP, seventh in innings, seventh in ERA, third in nine innings per walk and ninth in batting average. He had started only 38 games before this season. The Dodgers coughed uncontrollably when asked if Ureas might someday be a 200-innings pitcher; this year, he scored 185 2/3.
“It was fun watching him grow from last year,” Buehler said, when he said, ‘Hey, we’re going to use you all the time and play two or three innings. “‘And this year, you’re getting a full 30 year start and we’ll see what you can do.’ I don’t think we can trust anyone more pitching this game than Julio.
On April 20, the Dodgers left the urea to their own devices. He played seven innings in a 1–0 victory at Seattle. Scott Boras, his representative, circles that day.
“He’s got his breaking ball,” said Boras. “He’s been able to develop, and his change, and still maintain 95 mph. Now hitters can’t predict when he’ll throw the fastball, because he’s throwing curves and turning 40 percent of the time It’s a way to dismiss elite righthand hitters.”
Winning 20 games in 32 starts, when you’re only allowed to throw 100 pitches once, is remarkable. No other major league pitcher won more than 17.
When Bob Welch won 27 games in 35 starts for Oakland in 1990, he got 5.23 runs per game, but also won the Cy Young Award.
It’s good to pitch with a cushion. Batsmen usually start lunging for contact in search of that magical six-run homer. But these days withdrawal is quick, and urea usually stops them before they start.
Nolan Ryan said his job was to overtake the second starter and preferably move on. This is how you build Ws. The fact that the W is not a ubiquitous gauge for a pitcher is hardly a new concept. Back in 1968, no one in baseball thought Denny MacLaine (31 wins, 1.96 ERA) was a better year than Bob Gibson (22 wins, 1.12). But even that is not meaningless.
More important is the way in which Ureas emerged from an unrivaled Dodger laboratory project. His last full season was 2019 and he played only 79 2/3 innings. Ever since LA signed Urea at age 16, they’ve bubble-wrapped him to produce something like this at 25.
“There was constant communication between us,” Boras said. “They brought him along very, very slowly. They’ve done a great job, developed him without the stress of the innings. It helps that that athleticism is very strong in Julio, and now we’ve all seen that.” What kind of competitor is that?
“Looks like he’s got this old soul,” said Dodgers outfielder Mookie Bates. “He goes up there on the mound like he has been there, he has done it. He has so much confidence, it just overwhelms everyone.”
Then it explodes on the scoreboard.