Dodgers ace Julio Urías has started the year with a 3.33 ERA, in addition to 30 strikeouts and five walks over his first five starts. His four-seam fastball has slipped a bit this year, but his slurve and changeup have been as dominant as ever throughout his 27 innings.
However, in order to help the overall quality of his arsenal, Urías started throwing a new pitch in his cutter. He has only thrown it 34 times this season, which is good enough for 7.6 percent of his pitches, but it is a new weapon that makes his repertoire a bit deeper. Down below we are going to break down his new toy including how it has affected his overall arsenal and how well it plays off the rest of his pitches.
His new pitch usage
As has been the case throughout his entire career, Urías four-seam fastball is his most used pitch. It has dropped a bit this season, dipping down to a 44.4 percent usage rate, the lowest of his career and 4.8 percent lower than last year’s mark. His slurve usage is identical to last year’s as it sits at 33.3 percent. His changeup usage is the lowest it has been since the 2020 season, down to 14.7 percent, down from 17.5 percent in 2021. To me it is surprising that his slurve usage has stayed the same whilst his four seam and changeup rates have been affected. When Urías started throwing this pitch I thought it was something he would try and play off of his slurve causing it to be used a little bit less this season than in years prior.
How does it play off of his four seamer and slurve?
The biggest concern when a pitcher throws a cutter with a slider/slurve already in their arsenal is that they almost bleed into and take away from each other. Personally, I think that is something that is happening with Urías’ new cutter. When reviewing it for this article in watching some of his slurve’s and cutter’s side by side, they almost look identical to each other. Honestly, I don’t think he has thrown it 34 times this season, as I think some of his slower cutters are actually slurves that are being misidentified. When it is thrown harder as the one in the video shown, it looks like his slurve is just much tighter with a smaller break.
Now the obvious appeal in having a cutter is it gives him a hard pitch running in on righties. It’s something that can break bats and confuse hitters if they pick it up as a slurve out of his hand which could produce some truly ugly swings.
As long as Urías keeps his cutter usage around seven percent, I think it is fine for his arsenal. It is always good for a pitcher to have something hard in to one side which Urías did not have in his arsenal prior to his cutter. I understand why he did not develop a sinker or two-seamer, as they likely would have been too similar to his changeup. But, as highlighted above I am genuinely concerned that having a cutter slurve combo is going to decrease the quality of each pitch.