LA Dodgers: Here’s a case for a Julio Urias Cy Young award

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 24: Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is taken out of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning in Game Four of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 24, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 24: Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is taken out of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning in Game Four of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 24, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias has quietly inserted himself into the NL Cy Young award running this year after an outstanding regular season. The favorites for the award are certainly not to have anything taken away from them, but let me try to convince you why Urias should win this award as the dark horse.

First, we start with his biggest competition that I must acknowledge. We have a solid two horse race at the top between fellow Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer and Brewers up-and-comer Corbin Burnes.

Why Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias deserves the Cy Young award

The Dodgers did not lose a regular season game started by Scherzer once they acquired him from Washington, and after a shaky first half of the season, Corbin Burnes came on strong for the Crew in the second half to lead them to a 12-1 record in his starts from July 18th to October 2nd.

More Dodgers. Patience leads to strange streak. light

That October 2nd game was a loss that broke a 12-game winning streak in Burnes-started games, which turned the tables on an up-and-down first half for Burnes where his team won only 7 of his 15 starts.

Both Mad Max and Burnesy are the well-deserved favorites in the NL and for Burnes, 2021 is just the beginning of what I believe is going to be a solid career if he stays healthy. Spin rate does not often lie, and Burnes has the stuff to transform himself into the next dominant force on the mound for years to come.

Then we have Zack Wheeler, Walker Buehler, and Brandon Woodruff arguably ahead of Urias by popular opinion as well in the NL.

Wheeler was terrific for the Phils this year, but I believe his record isn’t great at 14-10 and his late-August lull really lowered his stock.

Buehler would be another dark horse choice of mine if not for my reasoning behind backing Urias which I’ll get to in a bit. Buehler, like Burnes, has unbelievable stuff, and until Scherzer came to town he was cruising his way to one of the top spots in the NL race. Buehler saw a drop in velo this year, but he arguably had his best statistical year in spite of it. Young Walker continues to grow from a hard thrower to an artist every time he picks up the ball.

And Woodruff had an interesting season in 2021 where his first half was basically what Corbin Burnes’s second half was. The Brewers won all of Brandon’s starts in the first half and lost Burnes’s. That completely flipped in the second half and it was Woodruff who was getting the short end of the stick from his team while Burnesy couldn’t lose.

But now we come to our guy Julio Urias.

Urias is regarded as the number four pitcher on an absolutely loaded Los Angeles Dodgers staff. Between him, Buehler, Scherzer, and Clayton Kershaw, the spin rate numbers are off the charts and the Dodgers possess perhaps the tightest foursome of starting pitchers to play in the Bigs in a number of decades. I would venture to say maybe it’s the most talented foursome in a staff ever, but that’s just my 20-whatever-year-old bias.

But even though Urias is vastly overlooked, his story is incredible and this year he was able to do something nobody else was able to do……and unfortunately, probably won’t do for quite some time with starting pitchers’ usage compacting.

Throughout his first four Big League seasons, Julio struggled mightily with control, he bounced back-and-forth between the Majors and Triple-A/A+ ball, and he even had his fair share of injury troubles.

All of that struggle culminated with Urias stepping up to the plate in 2020 to not only kill it with a 3-0 record and 3.27 ERA in 10 starts in the regular season, but he also came storming to the gates in postseason ball and wound up shutting the door to give the Dodgers the World Series in Game 6.

Julio had finally broken through, he had shed his past struggles, and he proved he was the future of the Dodgers’ pitching staff.

And he carried that momentum into 2021 to the tune of an unbelievable 20-3 record with a 2.96 ERA.

Here’s my pitch for Urias to get the Cy Young…..

Starting pitchers are being used less for their longevity and more for their high-leverage. Three times through a batting order is too much these days for a starting pitcher to go, and the uptick in bullpens usage is making starters’ jobs less and less important to bring that longevity to outings.

Since I’ve been writing here, I’ve been saying pitchers, both starters and relievers, are evolving into combinations of each other where soon you’ll see starters closing out games and relievers working the opening innings more frequently than ever before. You can check my tape on that.

This game is evolving, and soon 20-game winners will be an ancient relic. The nerds have dug their claws in and the win has virtually been eliminated from individual statistical importance.

Julio Urias’s numbers are certainly there. His 20 wins were not a crapshoot. He wasn’t the beneficiary of a legendary offense with Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger struggling, Corey Seager out for a big chunk of the year, and Max Muncy as the big dog hitting .249. He got his wins by digging in and carrying his team to victory.

Next. Roberts is reading your tweets. dark

He’s not the flashy option, but me as a natural contrarian (a phrase I’m sure you just rolled your eyes at), I like to look off to the side to see who’s not getting their due diligence, and Urias is that guy this year. Julio’s story arc the last two years deserves a payoff.