MILWAUKEE — Walker Buehler pitched his last game of the season on June 10. Clayton Kershaw is on the injured list for the second time this season. Dustin May is still more hope than reality.
And Julio Urias just keeps going.
The rock in the Dodgers’ rotation – maybe even before they realized it – Urias pitched five scoreless innings as the Dodgers resumed their winning ways, holding the Milwaukee Brewers to four hits in a 4-0 victory Monday night.
The Dodgers’ 80th win of the season was their 20th in 25 games since the All-Star break and 35th in their past 41 games, keeping them on pace to win 114 games this season.
Urias has been a near-constant throughout. Monday was the 14th time in his 23 starts this season that Urias has allowed one or no runs.
Nine of those have come in his last 13 starts, a stretch since the start of June during which the left-hander has a 2.05 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while holding opposing batters to a .190 average.
The steady improvement of his fastball as the season progressed has had a lot to do with that.
His velocity was down early in the year (likely thanks to the abbreviated spring training that followed MLB’s lockout) but it has returned over the course of the season. He hit 96 mph multiple times against the Brewers and averaged 94.4 mph on his four-seam fastball in the game, almost 1½ mph up from his season average.
Urias used that fastball to escape trouble in the first three innings.
The Brewers put their first two runners on base in the first inning and their leadoff man in both the second and third. Urias avoided damage each time, getting three of his six strikeouts and a double play with those runners on.
The early stress did pump up his pitch count and Urias’ night was done after only five innings (and 94 pitches). But the Dodgers had built a 4-0 lead by then.
Freddie Freeman hit a solo home run in the first. Mookie Betts reached on a throwing error by Brewers shortstop Willy Adames in the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Will Smith. And Gavin Lux hit a two-run home run in front of his hometown fans in the sixth.
With Urias done early, the Dodgers’ bullpen kept the shutout intact over the final four innings. Chris Martin, Caleb Ferguson, Evan Phillips and David Price didn’t allow a hit in a scoreless inning each. The only baserunner came in the sixth when a passed ball by Smith allowed Andrew McCutchen to reach base despite striking out against Martin.
The only perilous moment in that stretch came in the eighth inning when Phillips – the Dodgers’ most important reliever with Blake Treinen’s return still awaited – was hit in the leg by a 105 mph comebacker off the bat of Christian Yelich.
Phillips stayed in the game and retired the side in order.
More to come on this story.