(Photo Credit: Jaime Harms/MilB.com)
In what has turned out to be a very surprising development Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers have announced that Julio Urias will make his major league debut against the Mets Friday night in New York.
Urias, still almost three months away from his 20th birthday, will be the youngest starting pitcher to appear for the Dodgers since Dick Calmus on Aug. 23, 1963. At 19-years and 288 days, he’ll be the youngest to debut in the majors since Seattle’s Felix Hernandez in 2005.
In seven games started this season, the lefty phenom has thrown 41 total innings, recording a miniscule 1.10 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and a .176 opposition batting average. He has struck out 44 batters against only eight walks on the year, and is currently amidst a 27-inning scoreless streak.
Last week, OKC pitching coach Matt Herges was among the first to speak publicly about Urias’ major league readiness.
“Coming into the season, I had a checklist of things I had for him to work on and he’s been able to cross those things off,” Herges told Michael Avallone of milb.com. “How he handles himself in-game has gotten so much better. The frustration he used to show hindered his performance and it hurt the next pitch. That’s gone. How he holds runners was another box that needed to be checked off, and that’s done. Tipping his pitches, that’s checked. There’s always something to work on, but the things I was most concerned about in terms of his big league readiness, those boxes have been checked.”
After deciding the necessary corresponding moves to make room for Urias on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters, the Dodgers are expected to publicly announce the transaction sometime on Friday.
Lefty Alex Wood was slated to make the start in the first game of a three-game series against the Mets, but was scratched after feeling soreness in his left triceps, prompting the call to Urias.
It’s not yet known the severity of Wood’s injury.
In 2013, the Dodgers signed Urias away from the Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League when he was only 16-years-old for a reported $450,000. He’s often been compared to fellow countryman Fernando Valenzuela, who was called up from Double-A San Antonio at age 19 in 1980 to throw a total of 10 games out of the bullpen.
Having begun his professional career with Low-A Great Lakes the same year he was signed, the Dodgers‘ top pitching prospect has zipped to the peak of Triple-A Oklahoma City‘s starting rotation in less than three full seasons.
Urias’ pitching repertoire consists of four pitches — a four-seam fastball, which comfortably sits in the mid-nineties, a plus-plus curve, a quality changeup, as well as a developing slide piece.
Considering the degree of Wood’s ailment and the news of a potential return of Hyun-jin Ryu in mid-June, speculation has already surfaced that Urias could be used out of the Dodgers’ bullpen moving forward, which would be a much easier strategy to manage his workload.
Urias will oppose Mets’ flamethrower Jacob deGrom in Friday’s series opener. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Eastern time.