Dodgers look for Julio Urías to apply lessons tonight
By Jon Weisman
In the hours before Julio Urías took the mound for the first Dodger Stadium start by a teenage pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1984, Dave Roberts expressed high expectations for the 19-year-old left-hander, but also acknowledged the high degree of difficulty.
A swath of fan reaction since June 2, following Urías’ second consecutive losing start, focused on the fact that Urías wasn’t ready for the Majors. That might be true in and of itself — and it’s not as if the Dodgers have ruled out returning Urías to the minors.
But there’s also an overwhelming sense that the most important lessons Urías must learn can only come in the big leagues.
“For a young pitcher, (whose) definition of down in the zone’ isn’t the Major League ‘down in the zone,’ that’s something that was brought up, certainly,” Roberts said. “That’s an adjustment that young pitchers have to make, is understanding what is a Major League quality pitch. He’s good enough to make that adjustment.”
Roberts emphasized that Urías has too much self-confidence to lose faith in himself after finishing his first two starts with a 9.39 ERA. In fact, he suggested the reverse, saying that it’s a positive that Urías realizes “he hasn’t figured it out yet — he can get better.”
Part of the adjustment is maintaining a relentlessness on the mound, because big-league hitters are too good to let many mistakes go by.
“That’s why every single pitch matters,” Roberts said. “The great ones can minimize those misfires. … Every pitch is made with a purpose. ”
So the Dodgers continue to view Urías’ initial big-league starts as part of his development process. But they also know that this isn’t Spring Training, and he wouldn’t be there if they didn’t believe in him in the present.
“To develop here is tough, (but) we as an organization feel that he can get Major League hitters out.