The Los Angeles Dodgers made it official Friday, naming left-hander Julio Urias as the team’s Opening Day starter for a home matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The decision for Thursday’s game seemed like a foregone conclusion when Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw gave his stamp of approval on the plan earlier this week. Kershaw, who started the team’s season opener in nine of the past 12 seasons, is expected to start the team’s third game of the season, with right-hander Dustin May likely to start the second game.
Urias’ first career Opening Day start comes after he led the National League with a 2.16 ERA last season and was MLB’s only 20-game winner in 2021. The 26-year-old, who is set to be a free agent after this season, recorded the last out of the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series title.
“I think he has earned this opportunity,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Friday at Glendale, Ariz. “He’s checked a lot of boxes and this is one of the last for him and something that from his teammates to all of us, we’re excited for him to have this.”
Walker Buehler started for Los Angeles on Opening Day last season, but he is out after having Tommy John surgery in 2022.
Urias was 17-7 with 166 strikeouts and 41 walks over 31 starts (175 innings) in 2022. He is 49-17 in his seven-year career with a 2.82 ERA in 137 outings (101 starts), all with the Dodgers. Urias made two starts in the just-completed World Baseball Classic for Mexico, which advanced to the semifinals of the tournament.
Late scout Mike Brito was part of the Dodgers’ personnel that discovered Urias on a trip to Mexico in 2016. The team was set to watch Yasiel Puig at a workout that also included Urias, who was 16 at the time. The club eventually signed both players.
The Diamondbacks are set to start right-hander Zac Galen in Thursday’s season opener.