Let’s Avoid More Disaster: Julio Urias Needs to Start

It’s the middle of August, which means that the Dodgers season is winding down. The Dodgers and Giants are neck and neck for first place in the NL West, and there are no indications of that changing anytime soon. It is time for the Dodgers to arm up with their best players and get ready for the home stretch. But the Dodgers can’t arm up, because they don’t have enough good arms (pun intended).

At the back end of the rotation there is a big sign, and it says: HELP WANTED. Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, the two guys who are supposed to fill this role, are not performing, and the result is complete chaos. McCarthy simply had trouble throwing strikes in his last two starts, and couldn’t even get past the fourth inning in either start. Now he is back on the DL. Anderson came off the DL on Sunday and couldn’t last past one inning, and gave up 5 runs. The Dodgers pitching problem is in such a state of disarray that they only have three pitchers on their “probable” list for this week, and one guy on that list is Bud Norris.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://dodgersnation.com/jose-de-leon-let-the-kid-in-the-picture/2016/08/15/”]Jose De Leon: Let the Kid in the Picture[/button]

Before Anderson gets out there again to cause one of those days where the Dodgers use seven relievers in a game and lose by five runs, I have another solution. I say it’s time to give Julio Urias the ball, and have him go. He doesn’t need any more time in the minors, and doesn’t need the training wheels on anymore.

Right now he is considered the “long man” out of the rotation, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t start. If you think about it, he doesn’t have high expectations at all. If he gets through a start without getting blown up, that’s a win. And he can do that.

Urias’ time as the “long man” has been defined by his pitch count, which is closely watched (and rightfully so because of his age). Urias hasn’t been able to eat innings because it takes him about 70 pitches to get through roughly four innings. But when he is out there, he can hold his own, which I can say is more than what McCarthy or Anderson can do.

In five innings against Philadelphia last week, he allowed five hits and one earned run, and in a game earlier this week, he gave up three runs on six hits in a game where starter Brock Stewart gave up nine (yes nine!) runs.

Urias is having more success after his second call up from the minors because he has lowered his speed on his fastball and has relied more on other pitches. Looking at this chart from Brooks Baseball, Urias in July averaged a 95 mph fastball but now averages the pitch in the low nineties. This formula (less heat on the fastball and more off-speed pitches) has caused him to become the consistent “long relief” guy we know of right now.

[graphiq id=”823DgUavgYR” title=”Julio Urias 2016 Complete Pitching Splits” width=”600″ height=”750″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/823DgUavgYR” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/401618/Julio-Urias” link_text=”Julio Urias 2016 Complete Pitching Splits | PointAfter” ]

Urias, now 20, is still developing and is still a question mark. Will he become the ace we expect him to be in the future? We’ll see. But right now I’d rather roll the dice on him than see a pitcher like McCarthy, Anderson, or Stewart come in just to be relieved by Urias anyways in the second or third inning.

Urias is too good to stay in the minors. He has a 1.40 ERA in AAA and tabbing him as a consistent starter may increase his confidence as well. I would even say that he should be right there if the inconsistent Scott Kazmir can’t locate his pitches like he did against the Red Sox. Julio Urias has what it takes (and maybe more) to jump above these low-bar expectations left by his struggling teammates.

Staff Writer

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  1. Growing up in an era with 300+ IP was not unique, and 200 IP average for a career were routine, I do not understand the resistance to increasing the number of IP for pitchers. Don Sutton (23 years – avg 235 IP), Don Drysdale (14 yrs – avg 237 IP), Sandy Koufax (12 years – avg 222 IP), Warren Spahn (21 yrs – avg 252 IP), Bob Gibson (17 yrs – avg 262 IP), Luis Tiant (19 yrs – avg 224 IP), Juan Marichal (16 yrs – avg 257 IP), Nolan Ryan (27 yrs – avg 232 IP), Tom Seaver (20 yrs – avg 250 IP), Gaylord Perry (22 yrs – avg 248 IP), Steve Carlton (22 yrs – avg 245 IP)…How were they able to pitch that many innings with less knowledge of anatomy/kinesiology than there is today? But today’s front offices are hesitant to push the youngsters. 

    Julio already has 96 IP which is significantly the most IP in his young career. He may have another 20-25 IP left to give this year, which is probably more than the FO wanted to allow.  So what is the best use of that 20-25 IP?  I would say go to a 6 man rotation to save innings, but I don’t think the Dodgers have 6 healthy SP.  I can see the FO keeping Urias in the rotation for the next 3 starts and then shutting him down except for a relief inning every 4-5 days through the end of the year.  I doubt that is enough time for Kershaw to get back, but without Kershaw, LA’s chances at a WS are on life support anyway.  In September it is going to be all hands on deck.  As the only pitchers on the 40 man roster not on the 25 man, Stewart, Frias, and Avilan will all be called up.  Fien is already back.  Liberatore and Wood should be back.  In September, Stripling and Stewart can be #4 and #5, with Stewart dropping once Kershaw is back, and Wood can be the long man in the pen.  I do not count on McCarthy or Anderson logging any meaningful innings for the remainder of the year.

    I did not mention Jose De Leon, not because he should not be considered, but because there needs to be a roster spot available.  Wood is due back no later than September, and hopefully Kershaw gets back in September.  Spots have to be opened on the 40 man for them return.  That makes three being removed for De Leon to get the promotion.  It is not that he is not worthy, and he would undoubtedly be more important than McCarthy or Anderson, but decisions will need to be made on both to even open up the opportunity.  And then there needs to be one more.  I can see McCarthy going back on the 60 day DL so he can start his training for 2017, Anderson getting DFA’d, and if allowed, Tsao being recalled from the 60day DL and getting DFA’d.  That would also mean that 2016 is going to be over for Trayce Thompson, and a lost year for Andre Ethier.

    And finally for those anti Brock Stewart fans, admittedly his three games with LAD were not very good (although he was not bad Sunday), he is 24 and with a minor league season that is as good as there is in baseball this year.  113 IP, 1.75 ERA, .85 WHIP, 125 K, and 17 BB.  Not bad for a pitcher that started out in A ball to begin the 2016 season. People who do not want to see Brock Stewart on the mound for LA again would probably be disgusted with Lucas Giolito.  Giolito is the #1 RHSP prospect in baseball, sent down by the Nationals because of his horrible 3 game stretch. Stewart is arguably having a better year than De Leon, and is just as deserving.  I hope that the moves are made that will allow De Leon to join Stewart with the major league team this year.

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