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D.J. Short looks at what's behind Dodgers lefty Julio Urias' latest struggles, and why he's slumped after a strong start to the season.
DJ SHORT: Dodgers left hander Julio Urias looked to be reaching the next level through his first few weeks of the season this year, but things have gone in the other direction of late. As of Thursday, June 24, the southpaw holds a 6.31 ERA over his last five starts. After completing seven innings and four out of his first eight starts, he has completed six innings just once dating back to May 23.
The Dodgers have been extremely careful with Urias over the years, but he's already thrown 88 innings the season, eight innings more than his previous career high in the majors. He threw 75 innings between the regular season and the postseason last year. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has downplayed fatigue as a factor, and it's certainly a good sign that he's been able to maintain velocity while limiting hard contact. But the command just hasn't been as sharp.
His first pitch strike percentage has taken a noticeable dive, so it's not surprising that he's not pitching as deep in the games recently. And yes, it must be said that Urias' spin rate was down in his most recent start, so that's something to watch moving forward, as it is with most pitchers. Urias is still in a great situation with the Dodgers though, so this is hardly a sky is falling situation. But he should function as a reminder of many pitchers who will reach uncharted territory this year. So asking him to make that leap to fantasy ace status is probably a stretch.