Player Analysis: Juilo Urias

Background

Julio Urias was once ranked as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. In 2015 Urias ranked as the 4th best prospect across the league. This also put him as the top left-handed pitcher among all prospects. The very next year, in 2016, he made his major league debut at the young age of 19.

Despite the hype that surrounded Urias he has never pitched like a top-level prospect is projected too. In 2016, his first year in the bigs, he recorded a 3.39 ERA and 9.82 K/9 through 77 innings. When a 19-year-old can record those kinds of numbers it would lead one to believe that he has a bright future ahead.

This has been anything but the case though for Urias. Urias’s career has been filled with injuries and constantly being either sent down to the minors or being recalled for a short amount of time. In all honesty, 2019 was the closest Urias has had to a full major league season. He threw 79.2 innings with the majority of them coming out of the bullpen. In those innings, he was very effective posting a 2.49 ERA and a 9.6 K/9.

If I’m being honest though Urias kind of seems like a bit of a train wreck. Yes, he has dealt with injuries in his career which isn’t exactly something you can blame him for. However, he can take full blame for being suspended for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. His actions are simply unacceptable and I find it hard to support a player after acting in such a horrific manner. None the less, Urias is a rather interesting player so I want to take a look into his numbers and see what the future might hold for him.

Analysis

The way that Urias is successful on the mound is by creating soft contact. He is so good at producing weak contact that in 2019 he recorded a 24.9% hard-hit rate which was the best in the entire league among qualifiers. Urias records a solid number of strikeouts too as he usually caries a K/9 that floats a little above nine. When Urias is able to actually be on the mound he is very effective, it’s just a struggle to get him there.

If Urias can remain at the big league level for an entire season without getting injured or getting arrested there is no reason as to why he can’t be an all-star and maybe even a Cy Young candidate.

I didn’t expect to come to this conclusion going into this article but as it turns out, Julio Urias may be one of the most underrated pitchers in the league. Rightfully so too as even though he once held the spotlight, he has lost it to injuries and issues off the field. It also doesn’t help that he plays for the Dodgers as he falls under the shadow of so many other great ballplayers.

Let me elaborate at just how good Urias is and demonstrate how he has become so underrated. On March 9th of this year, Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts announced that Urias will be the fourth starter in the Dodger’s rotation this season. This puts him behind Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and the newly acquired David Price. This is an elite level rotation and considering that Urias is their fourth starter speaks volumes as to just how good the rotation is.

Shown below is Baseball Savant’s xwOBA rankings from 2019. It shows just how good Urias is.

Urias hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations that were placed on his career due to the lack of innings he has recorded. When Urias is on the mound though he is among the best. He will be a key piece to the Dodger’s organization this season as he could take the Dodger’s rotation and make it the best in all of baseball. Yes, you could argue that the Dodger’s rotation is already the best but if Urias has a repeat of last season in addition to recording more innings, it then becomes a point where it is no question as to which organization has the best rotation in the game.

Julio Urias is a talented pitcher who has the makeup to be among the best in all of baseball. If he stays healthy, he may be the X factor for the Dodgers in 2020. Don’t sleep on Urias. Simply put, he’s good.