May 29, 2023

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Urías bounces back with dominant start vs. Reds

4 min read
Trea provides offense as he goes 3-for-4 with a homer to extend hitting streak to 27 games

LOS ANGELES — After a disastrous first start in Colorado, Dodgers starter Julio Urías remained confident that he would turn things around quickly. The velocity on his four-seam fastball was down 2.8 mph in his first start, a concerning sign after he set a career-high in innings in 2021. 

But there was no worry in Urías’ demeanor. Instead, he got back to work. In between starts, he threw a bullpen session that was watched closely by pitching coach Mark Prior. During that time, Urías and Prior identified some mechanical issues that plagued the left-hander against the Rockies.

Urías in his second time through the rotation. He struck out five and allowed one hit over five scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 5-2 win over the Reds on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have won five consecutive games after starting the season 1-2.

“Honestly, really good,” Urías said in Spanish when asked how he felt on Saturday. “I think the most important thing is that I feel good with my mechanics and that’s what I felt today. We made an adjustment during the week in the bullpen and we saw the results today.”

With Urías and the rest of the staff holding the Reds offense to just two runs, that gave Trea Turner and the Dodgers offense plenty of time to pounce. Right-hander Hunter Greene cruised through five innings, throwing 39 pitches over 100 mph, the most in a single-game in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008).

But in the sixth, Turner jumped on a first-pitch 99 mph heater and sent it into the left-center-field bleachers for a two-run homer. Turner went 3-for-4 and extended his Majors-best hitting streak to 27 games. He’s four games shy of tying Willie Davis for the longest streak in Dodgers history.

“It kind of feels weird saying there’s a 20-something game hitting streak when you take a five-month break,” Turner joked. “But I guess that’s how it works and I’ll take it. Just keep battling and trying to get those hits.”

“It’s a special arm. He’s a great young man,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Greene. “We had our hands full. I know he had a family full of people here supporting him. It was good to see him keep his poise. He was getting us with the fastball and then he was mixing the slider, which was good, and also the changeup. We clearly didn’t get a lot of good swings off him until that Trea homer.”

While the offense delivered their usual big inning, all eyes were on the radar gun when Urias took the mound given his last start. In the first inning, he ranged from 91.5 to 93.1 mph with the heater. As the game went on, his velocity stayed around 92 mph.

Only two of Urías’ last 10 four-seamers were recorded at 93 mph or higher. He averaged 92.3 mph on the pitch, up from the 91.3 clip he posted in his first start, but still 1.8 mph slower than his season average in ‘21.

“It was all around really good,” said Roberts. “I think even in the next start, you’ll see a tick up in the velocity, too. Velocity is certainly important, but just the way he sequenced and commanded the baseball was really good.”

While the velocity isn’t quite there yet for Urías, he echoed Roberts in that he felt his command was much better Saturday, especially early in the game. After not recording a single strikeout in his first start, he struck out three of the first six batters he faced in his second start. The curveball is still the pitch that Urías hasn’t quite gotten on track with. He has thrown the pitch 35 times, but has recorded just three whiffs.

“I knew he was going to turn the page after his last start,” said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. “He threw the ball really well.”

Getting the 25-year-old back to his ’21 self will be key for the Dodgers over the next few weeks. Urías was the only 20-game winner in the Majors last season. With a bit weaker back end of the rotation, the Dodgers will continue to ride Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Urías. After an initial scare in Colorado, there appeared to be a collective sigh of relief on Saturday.

“I just felt like myself out there on the mound,” Urías said. “Obviously my last start was a bit weird in every way. Obviously it was Colorado, the wind and everything that went on in that game. But we’re back home now and I felt like myself today and we saw the results.”

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