Urias Struggles In Big League Debut

NEW YORKJulio Urias‘ much-anticipated big league debut in the Big Apple did not receive rave reviews.

The 19-year-old Mexican lefthander lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the Mets on Friday night, allowing three earned runs, five hits and four walks while striking out three. Urias threw 81 pitches, just 42 for strikes, and departed with the Mets holding a 3-1 lead.

Jeurys Familia blew the lead in the ninth, allowing Chase Utley’s three-run double—which took Urias off the hook—but Curtis Granderson‘s home run in the bottom of the inning won it for New York, 6-5.

Urias, signed as a 16-year-old from the Mexico City Red Devils, entered the game riding a 27-scoreless inning streak with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but became the first Dodgers pitcher to throw 80-plus pitches in fewer than three innings since Clayton Kershaw on June 10, 2009.

Pitching before 43,462 at Citi Field and wearing No. 78, Urias worked quickly in his brief outing, relying primarily on his fastball, which topped out at 95 mph. His slider reached 83 and his changeup clocked at 79, but he wasn’t getting them in the zone and he never found his rhythm. Urias rarely went to his curve.

“It was my first outing so I tried to follow what my pitching coach (Rick Honeycutt) and catcher (Yasmani Grandal) wanted me to throw,” Urias said through an interpreter. “I thought some of my pitches were in the zone, but I have to look at the video to double check to see if they were strikes. If not it was a good call by the umpire.

“When I wasn’t getting the calls, I just wanted to get the next one.”

Urias threw just four first-pitch strikes and 13 first-pitch balls to the 17 batters he faced. No Mets batter swung at any of his first pitches.

“There is a big difference (in minor league hitters),” Urias said. “They (Mets) were looking for specific pitches. I tried to fool them, but today I wasn’t able to.”

He struck out leadoff man Granderson looking at a fastball at 94 to start the game, but surrendered three runs on four hits, while walking a batter and throwing a wild pitch in the inning. Juan Lagares had the key hit, a two-run single with two outs off a slider.

“I’m not going to lie,” Urias said about being nervous before he took the mound. “I started thinking about everything I had to go through to get here. But when I was on the mound I started to feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the results we wanted.”

Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said he thought Urias was overthrowing early in the outing.

“I think early on maybe there was a little bit of extra adrenaline in trying to load it harder,” Roberts said. “There were some (94s) and (95s) coming out of his hand. He (Urias) was starting to throw a little harder.

“As far as the breaking ball and the change was, he was up and that’s the fatigue. When you get the high armside up early on, I think he was just too pumped up.”

Roberts was noncommittal about the next steps for his teenage pitcher.

“We’re going to talk about it tonight and see what’s best for him (Urias) and for us,” Roberts said.

Urias had not thrown more than six innings or 82 pitches in any of his starts at Oklahoma City prior to his callup. At the time of his promotion, Urias led the Pacific Coast League in ERA (1.10), WHIP (0.78) and opponents’ batting average (.176), and had 44 strikeouts and just eight walks in 41 innings.

At 19 years, 289 days, Urias is the youngest Dodgers starting pitcher since Dick Calmus (19, 228) on Aug. 23, 1963.

Fernando Valenzuela, who Urias is compared to because he is lefthanded and Mexican, was also 19 when he made his Dodgers debut in 1980.

The other Dodgers pitchers who made their major league debuts at 19 are Sandy Koufax (1955), Don Drysdale (1956) and Joe Moeller (1962).

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