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MLB wins leader Julio Urías shows off his 20-win potential in Dodgers’ victory


Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning.
Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías delivers during the seventh inning of a 3-0 victory over the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on Friday. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Julio Urías could be the only 20-game winner in the major leagues this season.

He leads the majors with 17 victories, with three weeks left to play. No one else has more than 15.

He could become the first National League pitcher to win 20 games in five years.

He is 17-3, leading the majors in winning percentage. In the second half, with his team trying to come from behind to win a division championship, he is undefeated, with a 1.74 earned-run average.

In another era, with wins above all, Urías might be a runaway favorite for the Cy Young award. Today, Urías appears to be running third in the Cy Young derby — third on his own team, that is.

He was first in the Dodgers’ hearts on Friday, stopping the San Diego Padres on three hits over seven shutout innings of a 3-0 victory. Max Muncy hit a two-run home run, his 32nd home run of the season and second in three days, and the Dodgers remained 21/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

In his first season as a full-time starting pitcher — no pitch limits, no innings limits, no shuttle between the rotation and the bullpen — Urías has been a welcome anchor in an injury-plagued rotation.

“Looking at where we’ve been as far as starting pitching, it means a lot,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “To be able to go deep enough to get a decision — let alone a win for your ballclub — has been huge.”

Urías has pitched 163 innings this season, more than double his previous high and ranking eighth in the league. His overall ERA of 2.98 ranks 10th in the NL.

Max Scherzer (13-4) leads the NL with a 2.28 ERA, and he ranks second in strikeouts. The three-time Cy Young winner also leads the league in lowest opponent batting average, and fewest walks and hits per inning pitched.

Max Muncy celebrates with Mookie Betts after hitting a two-run home run.

Max Muncy, right, celebrates with Mookie Betts after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning for the Dodgers on Friday. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Walker Buehler (13-3) ranks second in ERA (2.31), winning percentage and WHIP. He ranks fourth in innings pitched.

With 20 games left in the season, the Dodgers have no time for sentiment, and little time for patience. So, in the afternoon, they called up Gavin Lux and Matt Beaty, the better to restock their roster in search of even a portion of the offense their onetime most valuable player used to provide.

Cody Bellinger was not in the starting lineup Friday. He will not be in the starting lineup Saturday, and perhaps beyond.

“I’m going to give Cody a few days to work through some things,” Roberts said.

Bellinger is a Gold Glove outfielder. Lux never had played the outfield in his major league career.

The Dodgers have offered Lux two chances to stake his claim as their second baseman. He failed both times. His career batting average: .216.

For now, however, Bellinger has gone so wrong at bat that the Dodgers have removed him from the lineup. Lux played left field in a triple-A game Thursday — his first professional start at the position — and the Dodgers recalled him Friday and started him in left field.

Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP, is 0 for September. In his first plate appearance Friday, Lux drew a walk, matching Bellinger’s total for the month.

Bellinger has no home runs since Aug. 11 and no extra-base hits since Aug. 17. His batting average of .158 and OPS of .524 are the lowest among major leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances.

The Dodgers had the hopes of a team with its best days ahead of it. On the field before the game, Scherzer, Buehler and Clayton Kershaw walked together. The league posted a picture of the trio on social media, with the caption: “Wouldn’t want to face these 3 in a postseason series.”

Buehler is scheduled to start Saturday. Scherzer is set to start Sunday. The Dodgers plan to activate Kershaw to start Monday.

There was a forgotten man at Dodger Stadium on Friday, the one whose signing was announced with much fanfare at a stadium news conference in February.

The Dodgers’ day started with news that Trevor Bauer, who has not pitched since June 28 amid investigations into allegations of sexual assault, would not pitch again this season.

As Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed to extend Bauer’s leave through the end of the World Series, Roberts was asked whether Bauer would pitch for the Dodgers ever again.

“I have no idea,” Roberts said. “I’m just focusing on the guys that are in the room, and on winning tonight. I just haven’t given any thought to that.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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