Julio Urias is still very rough around the edges, but he's beginning to close the gap between his time as a minor league phenom and his future as a major league starter. Urias was electric in his third major league start, striking out seven in the Dodgers' 4-3 win over the Rockies on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
The growing pains are still there of course, with Urias needing 86 pitches to get through his four innings, thanks in part to Colorado hitters fouling off 19 pitches against him.
"He's getting ahead of hitters, but the ability to get that empty swing, there are some foul balls, there are borderline calls that don't go his way. Major league hitters can wait you out on counts," manager Dave Roberts said after the game, as seen on SportsNet LA. "He's got to get to the point where he can get ahead of hitters and wipe them out."
But the stuff is still there too, with Urias striking out a career-high seven, the first Dodgers teenage starting pitcher to do so since Don Drysdale struck out nine for Brooklyn on April 23, 1956.
The crowd, including Urias' mother and father and several family members, was buzzing from the first pitch, and Urias obliged by ending each of the first three innings with a strikeout. He struck out Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story twice each, and only walked one on the night.
"I felt like another dream was completed [pitching at Dodger Stadium]," Urias said through an interpreter, as seen on SportsNet LA.
Tuesday was also the first time Urias pitched with a lead, thanks to capitalizing on wildness in the first inning by Rockies starter Eddie Butler, who walked the first two batters then allowed a three-run home run to Justin Turner.
Colorado scored against Urias in the third inning when DJ LeMahieu singled, stole second, then scored on a double by Nolan Arenado to the wall in left, where Howie Kendrick looked every bit the second baseman playing out of position. But that was it, just the one run on three hits in Urias' four innings, his best major league start to date.
The seven strikeouts by Urias were tied for fifth-most by a Dodger in a start of four or fewer innings. Hideo Nomo holds the mark with nine, while Johnny Podres, Ismael Valdes and Ted Lilly all struck out eight in a shortened start.
The Dodgers as a team struck out 15 on the night and lead the National League with 552 strikeouts on the season, three more than the Nationals, though Washington has played two fewer games.
The Dodgers go for the series win and a potential 5-1 homestand in Wednesday night's series finale, a 7:10 p.m. PT start. Kenta Maeda gets the start for the Dodgers, with left-hander Chris Rusin starting for the Rockies.
As for Urias, Roberts said the left-hander earned another start in the rotation, which will come Monday in Arizona, likely against old friend Zack Greinke.
"There's still a lot in there obviously," Roberts said. "After three starts, we're excited for his next start."
Roberts also said Mike Bolsinger will start Sunday night in San Francisco.