Four years after his debut, the Dodgers are allegedly ready to take the training wheels off of Julio Urias. But will they actually?
The lefty’s usage was a point of topic on our latest episode of the Blue Heaven Podcast. Here’s an excerpt to save you time, but I’d appreciate a full listen if you fancy a podcast!
Manager Dave Roberts declared Urias a starter for the upcoming season less than a week into spring training games. However, Urias barely eclipsed 80 innings pitched between the regular season and postseason thanks to being shuffled back and forth from the bullpen, and a domestic violence suspension in 2019.
The low innings count could put him in a tough spot for a full starter’s workload.
El Culichi made his major league debut at the age of 19 in 2016 and tossed 127.2 innings between the minor leagues, and MLB regular season and postseason play that season. He entered the 2017 season in the starting rotation but a shoulder injury led to surgery and him missing most of the 2017 and 2018 campaigns, totalling 33.1 IP during that time.
After a grand total of 83.1 innings pitched in 2019, the wonder is how far can you stretch the guy this season?
On the podcast, my presumptive innings mark is 135 for the 2020 regular season — that’s a jump of 52 innings for a guy that hasn’t cracked 100 IP in four years…
Of course, Julio came into camp in much better shape this spring. Roberts mentioned the club challenging Urias to keep his health and body in check if they were going to take the reigns off. So with that said, is 135-150 innings a reasonable ask for the 23-year-old?
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More than likely — as the Dodgers do (just ask Ross Stripling) — Urias will bounce back and forth some between the rotation and the bullpen. Despite originally coming up through the system as a starting pitcher, the Culiacan, Mexico native has thrown more relief outings in his career. And the numbers out of the ‘pen are better by more than a full run.
But with most of those starting numbers accumulated before his shoulder injury, the case could be made to consider the stats moot.
Nevertheless, even with as much lip service the club has given about Urias being a starter in 2020, it’s hard to see him in the rotation from start to finish. And maybe that’s for the best.
As it stands, the starting five figures to be left-handed dominant with four of five being southpaws. Moreover, the bullpen clearly lacks a standout lefty option capable of dominating both right-handed and left-handed batters. Additionally, the current LHP options for Los Angeles come with ugly splits against RHBs.
In 2019, Julio Urias shutdown all handed batters, allowing only a .203 batting average to righties and a .198 to lefties.
These things have a way of figuring themselves out during the season, but on paper, Urias in the bullpen adds a huge weapon to this team. But his time is now, and it’s mostly on his performance where he ends up in 2020.