The ninth inning at Busch Stadium on Saturday afternoon did not feature drama. The Dodgers were leading 17-4. A win was cinched. It was about getting three outs to put the St. Louis Cardinals on the brink of a sweep in a heated playoff race. But the man tasked to secure those three outs added a layer of intrigue, and emerged with an outing the Dodgers were pleased to witness.
Pitching in his first major league game since May 2017, Julio Urias threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes, to retire the Cardinals in order. He struck out one batter. His fastball averaged 93 mph. His surgically repaired shoulder did not hinder him. Manager Dave Roberts liked what he saw.
“I was encouraged,” Roberts said before Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals. “I was just talking to him right now. I love the fastball command and the delivery looked really good. The velocity was fine. It was good. I think he missed on a couple changeups that were up a tick. But as far as it was coming out, really encouraging. So now that he’s got that outing out of the way, I feel better about him going forward.”
Once a can’t-miss prospect who debuted at 19, the 22-year-old Urias hadn’t pitched at any level since Sept. 3, when he logged two-thirds of an inning for triple-A Oklahoma City. Urias returned from anterior capsule surgery in his shoulder to appear in eight games across three minor league levels. He gave up seven runs in 11 2/3 innings. He struck out 19 batters and walked seven. There was doubt he’d reach the majors this season.
But Urias did. The question now is how often he will pitch. He pitched on at least four days’ rest in each of his eight outings in the minors. Roberts said he’ll be comfortable putting him in a game again this week when the Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies in a pivotal three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
“I can’t say what spot,” Roberts said. “But I think that just having done it, two years removed from that, but having done it so he’s matured and he’s strong and healthy, I feel good about putting him in there, essentially in any spot. I do.”
Justin Turner returns to lineup
Justin Turner was back in the Dodgers lineup Sunday after getting hit in the left wrist by a pitch Saturday. X-rays were negative but Turner said his availability would depend on how the wrist, the same one he fractured in March, felt Sunday. Roberts said the wrist was sore when the third baseman took swings Sunday, but not enough to keep him out of the lineup.
“I just think his presence in the lineup, to put an at-bat together, we’ll still bet on that,” Roberts said.