Kershaw, the Dodgers’ ace, made his major league debut in 2008 at age 20, one year older than Urias is now. When approached Friday and asked for some insight on his major league debut, Kershaw knew exactly where the conversation was headed.
“He’s just better,” Kershaw said, even before Urias’ name was mentioned. “He’s just better than I was at 19. Much better.”
So what is a debut outing like? Do things speed up? Are you constantly telling yourself to slow things down? Does the magnitude of the situation start to get overwhelming?
“All of the above,” Kershaw said. “Once you’re pitching, I think it’s pretty similar. But yeah, his whole demeanor, just everything is just light years ahead of when I came up. He’s had more time in the minor leagues than when I came up and they have really prepared him well. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to come up when I did because I learned up here. I think he’s already learned there so now he’s good to go.”
Kershaw is obviously engaged in every game the Dodgers play, but he admitted there was something special about Friday’s game since Urias will get his first chance to reveal his promise. Kershaw was asked if Friday’s game will be fun, not to put expectation on Urias in any way.
“Well, there is expectation like it or not,” Kershaw said. “We’re all excited to watch. Everybody keeps talking about how good our farm system is and now we finally get to see the fruits of it. So that’s good.”
As for all those comparisons, though, that have linked Urias to Fernando Valenzuela, and even Kershaw himself, the three-time Cy Young winner cautioned against people getting ahead of themselves.
“Fernando because they are both young and from Mexico and left-handed, and me just because I was young and left-handed,” Kershaw said. “I don’t think anybody looks at the pitching. They can try all they want, but he doesn’t throw a screwball (like Valenzuela) and I don’t throw a changeup. We’re not the same, but it’s a good story for y’all.”
Manager Dave Roberts said all the Valenzuela talk has been unfair to his young pitcher.
“I think naturally that’s the comp, but to compare anybody to Fernando and what he did, after you look at the impact he made on the Mexican community and the Dodgers, and baseball in general, is unfair,” Roberts said. “Julio is Julio. I understand the comp but that’s a tough one. That’s a tall order.”
Urias is considered to have an above-average fastball, changeup and curve. He has also been adding a slider, which ranks a little behind those three pitches.
So even if Urias’ start against the Mets doesn’t go exactly as the Dodgers might hope, everybody is confident that the future is very bright.
“I think he was one breaking ball at one point and now it’s turned into two, which is awesome,” Kershaw said. “He has the really hard slider that shows his aptitude. He can learn it in spring training, and then his curveball is still there too. He has four legit pitches, which is more than I have now, so it’s good, yeah. He’s going to be just fine.”