Four starts in, Urías has allowed just 10 hits in 18 innings, pitched to a 2.50 ERA, and struck out 15 batters. Though he hasn’t looked Cy Young-caliber yet, he has been far from scattershot, piecing things back together solidly after a career-high in innings pitched in 2021.
Last season, Urías served as a one-man argument for the deemphasis of the pitcher win, piling up a 20-3 record in 185.2 innings while only finishing seventh in the National League Cy Young race. He added 15 postseason innings to that ledger, passing the 200 mark and blowing his 2020 out of the water.
Blame the coronavirus, but that year he only threw 78 innings combined between the regular and postseason. Though his arm talent has bounced back already this season (as most knew it would), there’s still one bugaboo he can’t get over after that additional strain: the walks.
Urías has surrendered eight free passes already, leading directly to an elevated 4.34 FIP. He’s acutely aware of the issue, and seems to have grown frustrated as he attempts to work through the innings buildup.
Dodgers’ Julio Urías still must eliminate walks in 2022
As Urías related to SportsNet LA after his most recent letdown in Arizona:
"“The frustration obviously comes from the walks. It’s tough to put people on base. Obviously these guys are professional hitters, so the home run isn’t that upsetting because these guys are going to get their hacks. I felt like they only made good contact on two different pitches, but everything felt good, everything felt fine. All my pitches were working.”"
Spoken like a true modern pitcher: home runs are home runs. They exist, whatever. Hitters will mash. Eliminate the walks, minimize the damage, and it’ll all eventually tilt the scales in your favor.
As the 2022 offseason shutdown dragged on, it was easy to worry about counting on Urías and Buehler to repeat their exceptional seasons, considering the unreasonable burden they’d added to their arms after the 2020 shutdown. Both men had gone through the exact type of innings roller-coaster that organizations aim to avoid, though of course the pandemic gave them no choice but to go full-throttle when 162 games of baseball returned.
So far, so good overall for both; Buehler had his reins removed first, delivering the Dodgers’ first complete-game shutout of the year, and Urías has found his 2021 groove, minus one key element.
Considering his rapid progress already, it would be difficult to bet against him rediscovering it shortly.