Much like Keanu Reeves became "The One" towards the end of The Matrix, Julio Urias is starting to believe in himself and why he is here on the major league roster. The calmness he carries himself with has quietly allowed him not only figure out how to get hitters out, but challenge them and go deeper in games.
The 20-year-old allowed the first three Cubs to reach safely and got behind 1-0 before he had recorded an out Saturday afternoon. But at no point did Urias panic as he struck out the final two batters of the inning after Ben Zobrist laid down a sac bunt.
"He just kind of brushed it off," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "Earlier this season you might see him waiver a little bit more, but the mound presence, the composure, and try to continue to execute pitches. There were some pitches today he felt that he should of got but he kept competing. That’s a sign of growth."
Urias would go on to strike out eight batters on the day for his second straight start of six innings. Since Clayton Kershaw threw his last pitch on June 26, only Brandon McCarthy had gone at least six innings in consecutive starts until Urias achieved it Saturday.
In his last six games (four starts), Urias has gone 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and has struck out 26 batters against 8 walks since the All-Star break. Overall, since giving up eight earned runs over his first 7 2/3 innings in two shaky starts to begin his career, the lefty has only allowed 18 earned runs over 55 1/3 innings in his last 12 games (10 starts).
One of those first two starts came in Wrigley Field where the Cubs battered him around for six runs (five earned) and three homers. It was a completely different story the second time around.
"That’s the beautiful part of this sport is that it gives you the opportunity to face (teams a second time)," said Urias. "I’m thankful for my team for being able to help me and get the win."
Sounding like a seasoned veteran, Urias praised his teammates for getting him through the toughest parts of the start.
"They give me a lot of confidence," said Urias. "Chase (Utley) went up to the mound a couple times and he told me that we needed a ground ball to get a double play and I’m grateful that everything worked out."
At each stop along the way to the major league level, Urias has shown that he can make the adjustments necessary to be successful. As he has become more comfortable, Urias is attacking more and nibbling less.
"I think he’s being more aggressive," said Roberts. "Early on he was trying to understand the major league strike zone and its’s a little bit tighter east and west here in the big leagues, and it’s a little more liberal north and south."
"I think that early on in his starts he felt he was getting squeezed. With the stuff that he has he can trust his stuff and be a little more aggressive in the strike zone."