Dodgers: Why Julio Urias Should Remain a Starter

Dodgers starter Julio Urias continues to struggle this season. His uneven 2020 culminated in giving up four earned runs in Tuesday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants. Urias was primarily used as a spot starter and effective lefty reliever last season, should he return to the bullpen for the rest of 2020?

Early Urias Struggles

Urias has lacked command as a starter this season – too few strikeouts and too many walks. He has three starts this year with two or more walks without completing six innings. In last week’s loss to the Seattle Mariners, Urias burned through 52 pitches and couldn’t complete two innings. In four of his five starts in August, Urias walked a batter in the first inning.

  • 8/25 @SF: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 79 pitches
  • 8/19 @SEA: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 52 pitches

He’s yielding home runs at the highest rate of his career (1.0 HR/9) while striking out batters at the lowest strikeout rate of his career (8.0 SO/9), since his injury shortened 2017.

It hasn’t been pretty, but the Dodgers shouldn’t simply pull the plug starting Urias after waiting through shoulder surgery, multiple eye surgeries, and his natural player development since his call-up in 2016. 

Wait and See

Granted, two bad starts awash in a sea of average-at-best performances, but it’s still too early to bail on the 24-year-old Urias,

The southpaw wears a 3.67 ERA which 29 other MLB teams would be pretty happy with for a starter. This is still the same top Dodger prospect who graded out ahead of the likes of Blake Snell and Josh Hader. This is still the same pitcher who had a no hitter through the first three innings against the eventual champion Chicago Cubs in the 2016 NLCS.

He could still be a rotation mainstay and the Dodgers have the time to find out.

If the Dodgers were scrapping for a playoff spot and Buelher wasn’t on the IL, maybe there’s a stronger argument for converting Urias back to a reliever this regular season. For the postseason, Urias might be a better option as a reliever, but like Kenta Maeda, he deserves regular season starts.

Pulling Urias from the rotation would be a whiplash reaction akin to mismanaged teams. The kid gloves need to come off. Manager Dave Roberts needs to let him work through his current struggles and stop pulling him at the first sign of trouble.

How is Urias going to reach his potential if he continually gets pulled at the first sign of trouble?

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Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of the Dodgers Nation 3 Up, 3 Down Podcast.


  1. So, he had a great outing against the Cubs in 2016. That was 4 years ago and till he has not proven himself as a starter since that time. Yes, he is young. Yes, Koufax had a hard beginning. Matter of fact Koufax became a great pitcher only after a hard slide into second base where he jammed his elbow and missed a start or two. From that date on til that arm caused him a premature retirement he hardly lost a game but he was a losing record pitcher or close to that before that injury
    I do not see the case being made for him as a starter. Maybe worth taking a flyer for another strt or two but if he continues let’s build up arm strength in Gonsolin and May-already good winners this short year, and see if White is yet ready. Both Stripling and Wood have yet to distinguish themselves as reliable starters this year, So, what looks better-a starting staff headed by Kershaw, Buehler, May, Gonsolin ( plus a ? whoever looks best at time of need) or one with Kershaw, Buehler, Urias, Wood, Stripling?

    Can Urias make it or will he go another couple years before they trade him or he goes elsewhere as a free agent? Time will tell.

  2. The go to guys in the rotation are Kershaw and Buehler. You can argue with the order, especially in the postseason, but they are clearly the 1 and 2 guys. May and Gonsolin have earned the 3 and 4 spots, whether Roberts knows it or not. Urias is the 5 guy who will be in the bullpen for the postseason, where he has clearly done well. Urias should keep getting starts in the regular season if he is healthy. He has lost 2 or 3 mph on his fastball this season. His fastball is coming in at 94-95 mph. He used to hit 96 mph regularly, and 97 mph occassionally. I am wondering if he really is completely healthy.

  3. RIDICULOUS! there is NO WAY urias should be in the rotation & gonsolin a spot starter, the positions should be switched. hell, same is true for stripling. regardless of what these dudes THINK they are, they have PROVEN they are better long/middle relievers than starters. F protecting their egos.

  4. Eric I agree. He is fighting something mechanical or mental and does not have control. He has all of the pitches and ability to be a #1-#2 starter on an MLB team. He is still very young and has had very little consistent experience.
    The Dodgers are going to be in the playoffs this year. There is no reason to panic and rush him or pull him from the rotation they have the best record in baseball which means NOTHING this year as everyone gets a 3 game series no matter their record.
    The Dodgers have May, Urias and Gonsolin gaining experience and pitching its a win win for the Dodgers for their Future.
    They have Buehler, Urias, May, Gonsolin getting innings plus Gonzalez & Santana with White, Gray and others in the wings plus through the draft this year they picked up what several scouts thought were first round quality pitchers with their first 3 pitcher picks. Its all good for the future as pitching still rules baseball.
    Great to see Gaterol getting experience and throwing elite gas. Its humorous his change up is a 90 mph fastball….He throws a breaking pitch and batters are flailing at it as they are all geared up for the 100 mph heater with movement. Treinen threw a 98 mph sinker last night with incredible break as a strikeout pitch that looked to be unhittable.

  5. This is just my opinion, but I think Urias should return to the bullpen..He is VERY unconsistent as a Starting pitcher and with under 30 games left to Our season we should bring in a MORE reliable pitcher to replace Urias as a starter..We need consistency and Urias is not it!!

  6. I was in favor of using him in relief, but the loss of Buehler virtually eliminates that option. Has he ever gone six innings? I have seen enough of Stripling this year and would not be starting him in the Arizona series.

  7. Urias is the same man that pitched well against the Cubs, but he is nowhere near the same pitcher. Presently, Urias cannot even be trusted in the bullpen.

    1. Hi Socal! Yea, agree, I have to say Urias no longer looks like the same guy. Maybe the Dodgers could send some video to Honeycutt and let him talk to Urias about what he observes after watching it. Mark Prior does not seem to be having any success correcting what is wrong but Urias has regressed and it’s getting worse. Honey has seen him for years, you never know, he might spot the problem.

  8. Where is the analysis? Anyone can write a 100 word essay wishing for something. How often is he throwing his fastball, curve, changeup? Which pitch is he throwing for strikes? Lefties vs righties? Number of pitches each start? Spin rate?
    Whay is going to keep
    Urias in the rotation besides you want him there?

  9. The Dodgers gave Urias a “fish or cut bait” opportunity and he “cut bait.” Two really big problems. He can’t locate his pitches & he’s lost velocity. Everyone who wants to keep him is remembering the guy before his shoulder surgery. Dodgers either need to move him before rest of MLB recognizes it, or put him in the pen to be a fairly serviceable middle reliever. Dodgers would be smart to pick up a proven MLB starter to use as #4 starter for playoffs.

  10. He’s been disappointing but it’s still way to early give up on him. There’s nothing wrong with a 94 – 95 fastball. Location is much more important and he needs to sharpen his command. His problem has been putting away hitters with 2 strikes. Better location or developing a slider that breaks out of the zone and he’d be deadly.

  11. He’s always “a great prospect”! But never develops. Time to move on. Stripling isn’t starter quality either. You’re wasting a great team and losing games for no reason with those two starting.

  12. Robert’s has said Urias as of now is seen as a starter but a few more rough outings of lasting 4 innings or less might change things. But it’s now obvious that Stripling cannot keep the baseball in the yard and he thus is forcing offense to score 5, 6 or more runs to have a chance . Stripling has now allowed 22 HRs, most in MLB.

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