The Los Angeles Dodgers pursued a ton of upgrades on the starting pitching front prior to the MLB trade deadline for a reason. Walker Buehler hasn't pitched at all this season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last year, Clayton Kershaw is currently on the mend due to a shoulder inflammation, and Julio Urias, in addition to enduring injury problems of his own, has battled inconsistencies all season long.

But on Thursday night, Urias was able to pitch well against the Oakland Athletics, tossing five innings in his first start after he needed to take eight days off due to a left index finger injury. In those five innings (68 pitches thrown), Urias struck out five and walked just one, allowing no runs on three hits.

This was a much-needed solid performance for Julio Urias, who entered his most recent start having posted an ERA of just 4.98 in 15 starts (81.1 innings). The Dodgers may be getting the superstar version of Urias yet heading into the stretch run, especially if the 26-year old starter is feeling as comfortable as he says he does.

“There's been a lot of inconsistency throughout the year, but I feel like I'm myself on the mound, feel like I'm stronger on the mound,” Urías said after the game, per Sarah Wexler of “… I feel really good about where I'm at right now.”

Given Julio Urias' injury troubles as of late, it's no surprise to see the Dodgers limit him to just 68 pitches despite having thrown a solid outing. With the San Francisco Giants breathing down the Dodgers' necks, LA simply cannot risk losing Urias for a prolonged stretch, especially after missing out on Eduardo Rodriguez and Justin Verlander on the trade market.
Perhaps Urias' start against the A's proves to be the start of a 2023 season turnaround for the 26-year old southpaw. He has allowed much harder contact this year — perhaps missing more bats would go a long way towards helping out the Dodgers. If Urias manages to turn things around, it would be as if the Dodgers acquired the top-end starting pitching they so craved prior to the trade deadline.