He shook his head. He rolled his shoulders. He tapped on his glove. He took a baseball from an umpire and quickly threw it to the ground.
By the time Jules UrieThe debut of the season ended Sunday afternoon, with flying shots and fluttering grocery bags and questions swirling in the cold Coors Field wind, the Dodgers magic southpaw couldn’t leave the field enough rapidly.
When david roberts came for the ball in the third inning, Urías jumped off the mound, met it on the grass, put it back on, took off his cap, lowered his head and purposely walked into the shadow of the dugout .
It was not what the Dodgers expected. That’s not what the Dodgers needed.
On his first opportunity to fill the No. 2 starter role in a thin rotation teetering on mediocrity, Urías failed to play his role, burying them with a six-point deficit in an eventual Lost 9-4 to a Colorado Rockies team this columnist had described as “absolutely awful.”
What a difference a weekend makes. On Friday afternoon, the Dodgers opened the season with shining arms and fortuitous bats, but by Sunday they had spent two days dropping balls and swinging wildly and throwing recklessly and running mindlessly.
No surprise, but they lost a series to the Rockies at Coors Field for the first time in four years.
No surprise either, Roberts was not thrilled.
“We didn’t play baseball well,” he said.
The offense, which has incredibly accounted for just four extra hits in three games in this mile-high mecca, should ultimately be good. The defense, which has apparently given the Rockies dozens more chances, won’t be so bad.
Honestly, the most hectic part of the weekend focused on the 25-year-old coming up against brilliant new pressure with a strangely fading fastball.
It’s safe to start worrying Jules Urie.
“It was a strange day from the start,” Urías said through an interpreter. “With the wind, with everything going on, it was really strange.”
Strange in that, this confident kid from last season looked lost.
Apparently, whatever he threw, the Rockies hit or tipped or just banged. He didn’t miss many bats. He hit barrels, he hit handles, he even hit an elbow.
“He just didn’t seem in sync with the No. 1 field,” Roberts said.
Urías was still looking when Roberts came for him after pitch No. 57. In just two complete innings, plus five batters in the third, Urías allowed six runs, six hits, two walks and one kick. circuit.
What is more disturbing is what he did not do. For the first time as a starting pitcher since mid-2019, he didn’t retire anyone.
Here’s something else he was missing, and feel free to start getting really stressed when you read this. He lacked velocity. Springtime fears over its diminishing power were reinforced when its average speed was tracked at 91.4 mph, down nearly three ticks from last year’s 94.1.
“I feel good,” Urías said when asked about his slowdown. “It’s about executing throws. I don’t feel like I’ve executed enough. I could throw 100 miles per hour and the results would have been the same because the execution was poor.
Still, it wasn’t Julio Urías from last year. Do you remember him ? He became their long-awaited revelation, becoming the only winner of 20 baseball games while also finishing in the ERA top 10 (2.96). He was so good that he didn’t lose a game after June, going 11-0 with a 1.95 ERA to end the regular season.
Granted, the Dodgers messed him up in the playoffs, weirdly using him twice as relief and straining his arm for a losing start against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. But he had a very successful summer, and with the departure of Max Scherzer and the exile of Trevor Bauer, Urías entered this season as the second firm starter behind Walker Buhler.
What is the potential size of Urías’ presence? If he doesn’t play, the Dodgers may have to trade not one, but two starting pitchers, and how tough will that be?
Then, many fans fear that if Urías does not play, the Dodgers might use it as an excuse to excuse Bauer’s alleged behavior and allow him to return to the team if baseball does not suspend Bauer for the season.
No one is obviously talking about that part of the equation. But for many reasons, it’s clear that Urías could be the team’s most important arm.
“Well, we’re counting on him,” Roberts said, later adding, “He’s certainly aware of what he means to our ball club and our rotation. Today isn’t a good day for him. , for us. But I think, looking out there, he’s a guy that I know is going to improve. And he takes it personally. So I know the next corner will be considerably better.
You could tell from his frustrated movements on the mound that Urias took it personally. Afterwards, he tried to quickly put him behind him.
“It’s just one of those things where, it’s a long season, make those adjustments and prepare for the next one,” he said.
To be fair, there were plenty of extenuating circumstances that could lead to pause before making a serious assessment of Sunday’s mess.
It’s only a beginning. It was in a funky stadium with crazy altitude. Chris Taylor cost him three points by losing a fight with the wind in left field and dropping a fly ball. Urías lost 20 pounds in the offseason and may still be trying to figure out his new body. He only pitched eight innings in the spring and may still be trying to figure out how his arm has evolved.
But the hard truth remains that if Urías doesn’t pitch like a top starter, the Dodgers are in trouble.
His season started on Sunday. Mulligans now end.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.