Brewers: Why Hasn’t Luis Urias Been In the Starting Lineup Lately?
By Matt Carroll
Brewers infielder Luis Urias was one of the team’s better hitters earlier this season. The same has not been true as of late.
One of the more surprising moves that the Brewers made last offseason was the trade that sent Trent Grisham and Zach Davies and a player to be named later to the Padres for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer. For Milwaukee, Urias was the main target of that deal.
Urias came to the Brewers with strong minor league numbers (.308/.397/.433 slash line) but mediocre results in the majors (.226/.316/.321). Combine that with the fact that he was just 22 at the time of the trade and it was hard to tell what contributions the young infielder might make in 2020.
To muddy things even more, Urias ended up suffering a series of setbacks to start his season. A wrist injury during winter ball kept him out of his first Spring Training with Milwaukee. Then, a positive COVID test kept him out of Summer Camp.
Eventually, Urias found himself fully healthy and able to participate in baseball activities at the alternate training site in Appleton. In early August, the young infielder was activated from the injured list while Logan Morrison was designated for assignment.
Urias had a hit in four at bats and scored a run in his first game with the Crew and went on to be one of the only consistent hitters in the Brewer lineup thereafter. It even led to calls for him to be installed as the leadoff hitter, which would end up happening for the first time in his Brewers career later in the month.
Urias continued to hit solidly when September rolled around for the Brewers. However, a recent slump has led Urias to be removed from the starting lineup completely for every game in the team’s current series against the Reds.
With the Brewers currently fighting for their playoff lives, Luis Urias has been nowhere to be found when recent starting lineups have been announced.
Urias had his best game of the season on September 9th in Milwaukee’s blowout 19-0 win over the Tigers when he went 3 for 6 with two doubles and five driven in. Ever since then, he has seen himself in a major offensive drought.
In the 11 games in which he has played since that day, Urias is just 1 for 21 with two walks and nine strikeouts. His batting average has dropped from .286 all the way down to .238 over that span.
What was impressive about Urias early was his ability to take what the pitcher gave him in certain situations. But during his slump, he has become completely one-dimensional, pulling 83.3% of his batted balls and having 75% of them go for ground balls.
Because of his slump, and with the Brewers needing to put their best foot forward while battling at least four other teams for a playoff spot, Urias has found himself on the bench more often than not lately. In fact, his most recent start came last Saturday in the second game of the Royals series.
Unless he can collect some big hits in pinch hit appearances, the trend likely won’t change any time soon. He may be relegated to defensive replacement duties until someone else goes through a slump as well.
Urias is still young, so he has plenty of time to learn from this season and improve his offense going forward. But benching him now is probably the right decision if it means a better chance of getting the Brewers to the postseason.