Dodgers’ Julio Urias with big shoes to fill soon
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias awaits to hear if he will be the team’s No. 2 starter this season, an even greater honor awaits down the road.
Urias is in line to take over as the Dodgers’ top left-handed starter at some point in the near future. Clayton Kershaw, who signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers once the lockout ended, still has the top lefty honor. He’s one of the best baseball has ever seen. But the Dodgers’ internal torch will have to be passed eventually.
In Urias’ final tuneup before the regular-season starts for the Dodgers on Friday at Colorado, Urias did not exactly look like the heir apparent the team hopes he eventually will become. He gave up five runs on six hits with three walks in just two-plus innings (61 pitches) in a 10-4 Freeway Series loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“First and foremost, I felt good and I felt healthy,” Urias said through an interpreter. “Obviously the results didn’t show but I felt good and that’s the goal getting ready for our (season) start at Colorado.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declined to say Monday if Urias will be his No. 2 starter on Saturday at Colorado. Right-hander Walker Buehler already has been tabbed to pitch in Los Angeles’ season opener at Denver on Friday.
“I think we’re set as far as the five guys that are going to start (the first) five games, I just don’t know what order,” Roberts said.
There is not a situation unfamiliar to Urias over the last few seasons. He was a hero of the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series championship run, and last year he tried in vain to deliver on short rest in the National League Championship Series.
Urias coughed up the lead in relief in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, then was rocked as a starter, while taking the loss in Game 4. Both outings came on two days’ rest as the club was ultimately eliminated.
The Mexico native remains one of the most popular Dodgers pitchers, getting one of the biggest ovations before Monday’s game, along with Los Angeles free-agent addition Freddie Freeman. In Game 4 of last season’s NLCS, Freeman hit a home run off Urias, one of three he gave up that day.
The page now turned, and his spring work complete, Urias is ready to follow his 20-win season from 2021. He had never won more than five games in any of his previous five seasons and his 20-win year was the first from a Dodgers pitcher since Kershaw in 2014.
“Obviously winning 20 games is very difficult, but those are goals we are going to set for ourselves,” Urias said. “But first and foremost, you just want to be healthy.”
One of the runs Urias gave up Monday was a solo home run by Brandon Marsh, who is now a part of the Angels’ everyday lineup flanking center fielder Mike Trout. The other young everyday outfielder is Joe Adell, while first baseman Jared Walsh rounds out a trio of young Angels hitters that could extend a lineup charged by Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon.
“Last year, without Anthony and Mike in there, it was really different, obviously,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said about injuries to two of the team’s stars. “Walsh was ascending, (Taylor) Ward was still putting his feet on the ground. Listen, we still have to (lean on Trout, Ohtani and Rendon). But the skill level of all these guys, when you go Adell and Marsh, it’s pretty nice.”
After getting home runs from Rendon, Ward and Ohtani on Sunday against the Dodgers, the Angels had two on Monday as Marsh and Jose Rojas went deep.
OUTSIDE THE LINES
Torut was not with the Angels, missing the game with an unspecified illness that Maddon likened to a stomach bug. ... Angels second baseman David Fletcher missed his third consecutive game with hip tightness, but the injury is not considered serious. ... Freeman returned to the Dodgers after missing Sunday’s game with what Roberts called a “24-hour” bug.