Julio Urias continues to prove that he is an elite pitcher who is impossible to ignore

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers during the first game against the San Diego Padres on Saturday. Urias pitched another good performance in an 8-4 win over the Padres. (Grigoris Bull / Associated Press)

Dave Roberts doesn’t like how, in his opinion, Julio Urias is being overlooked as one of baseball’s best shortstops.

And though the 26-year-old left-hander might not recognize it, Roberts believes he’s set in motion an increasingly amazing — and increasingly Cy Young — 2022 campaign.

“His mentality is up there with some of the best I’ve ever seen,” the Dodgers manager said. “To be honest, I think Julio uses some of the lack of recognition as fuel. I think all players have some sense of what fuels them. And I think that’s part of it.”

However he’s been perceived, Urías is becoming nearly impossible to ignore, continuing a torrid two-month run on the mound with seven more strong innings Saturday night in the Dodgers’ 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

As the Dodgers lineup came alive against Padres starter Blake Snell and company — Freddie Freeman led the way with four hits and four RBIs, including a two-run homer, while Trea Turner tripled and Chris Taylor added a RBI single — Urías delivered yet another sure-fire lineup to help the team lower its National League West magic number to four.

Urias completed seven innings for the fourth time this year, surpassing the 150-inning mark for the second straight season.

After a couple of walks helped the Padres load the bases in the first inning, he quickly settled down, finding a groove to retire 17 of his final 21 batters in an 83-pitch display.

He gave up a pair of Manny Machado solo home runs, but Urías barely gave anyone else a well-hit ball, finishing with as many strikeouts as hits surrendered (five each).

“He was outstanding,” Roberts said. “I’m struggling to find adjectives to describe him and what he’s done for us.”

Freddie Freeman, right, is congratulated by teammate Trea Turner after hitting a two-run home run during the seventh inning.

Freddie Freeman, right, is congratulated by teammate Trea Turner after hitting a two-run home run during the seventh inning. (Grigoris Bull / Associated Press)

Freddie Freeman celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Padres.

Freddie Freeman celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Padres in the seventh inning Saturday. (Grigoris Bull / Associated Press)

Statistics help paint the picture.

Urias held the league lead in earned run average, finishing with a 2.30 that continues to top his nearest competitors: Miami’s Sandy Alcantara, Atlanta’s Max Fried and Arizona’s Zac Gallen.

Urias lowered opponents’ batting average to .197 and his WHIP (walks and hits per pitch) to .95, ranking second and third, respectively, among NL eligible pitchers.

He also earned his 16th victory, tied with teammate Tony Gonsolin and Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander for second-most in the majors behind Braves’ Kyle Wright.

Does Urias feel he deserves serious consideration at the Cy Young Award, for which Alcantara is the favorite, but the rest of the field remains relatively open?

“I’m just trying to go out there and do my job,” Urias said through an interpreter. “I can’t be too attached or too focused on what’s going on, what conversations I’m having. I just go out there and do my job.”

Roberts was much less coy about the pitcher who could lead the team’s rotation when the playoffs begin next month.

“It’s hard to ignore what this guy does for a championship ball club,” Roberts said. “He wasn’t an All-Star this year for some ridiculous reason. So to be able to be in that Cy Young conversation, I think that’s why.”

Indeed, when Urías passed for this year’s All-Star Game, it was considered one of the biggest snubs of the event — reminding Roberts of the pitcher’s seventh-place finish in last year’s Cy Young contest, even as he was baseball’s only 20-game winner.

“Last year,” Roberts said, “I thought he was neglected.”

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws against the Padres in the fourth inning Saturday.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws against the Padres in the fourth inning Saturday. (Grigoris Bull / Associated Press)

That might not be a problem after the awards vote this year. After missing the All-Star team in mid-July, Urias has had the most dominant stretch of his seven years in the big leagues.

In his last 10 starts, he has given up just nine runs in 63 innings (1.29 ERA). He has struck out 58 batters while walking just 14. And he has benefited from a steady increase in his fastball velocity, which pitching coach Mark Prior believes has better complemented his offspeed pitches.

“Most of the time, he kind of picks up towards the end of the season with his velo,” Prior said. “The delivery is getting more synchronized, the timing. He’s more comfortable letting it rip.”

The result was a lot more of what Prior calls “oh crap” swings from opponents, leaving hitters “not sure where [each pitch] it’s going to break.”

That happened against the Padres on Saturday.

And that’s what Roberts is confident will continue the rest of the year, with Urías continuing to build on what is quickly becoming the best season of his career.

“He just keeps getting better and better every year and every start,” Roberts said. “I think he’s one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.”

Short hops

The Dodgers placed Blake Treinen on the injured list Saturday with right shoulder tightness, sending the reliever back to IL just two outings after returning from a partially torn shoulder capsule that forced him to miss four months this season.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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