While the Los Angeles Dodgers intend on Julio Urias factoring prominently in their success this season, how that will manifest itself remains unclear. Urias will once more be on an innings limit.
The club has mentioned leaving their prized left-hander in extended Spring Training when breaking camp, or sending Urias to Triple-A Oklahoma City, as options. So too is including the 20-year-old in the Opening Day rotation.
While the Dodgers figure to spend the remainder of Spring Training determining a course of action, one possibility appears to have been ruled out. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Urias likely will not be placed in the bullpen as a means of capping his workload:
"Industry is not used to a guy like Julio," Roberts said about club's dilemma over how to limit Urias' innings. Bullpen not likely option.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 12, 2017
After calling on Urias for his MLB debut last June, the Dodgers handed him the ball for seven more starts into late July. Then Urias pitched out of the bullpen in two of his next three games with the team.
On Friday, he made his third appearance in a Cactus League game, but it was his first in relief. Urias said his mindset and approach — that of a starting pitcher — remained unchanged. Roberts has previously touched on the complexity of Urias’ situation, and again reiterated the challenges of harnessing such a talented pitcher.
Including time spent with Oklahoma City, and the regular season and postseason with the Dodgers, Urias threw a career-high 127.2 innings. His previous career high 87.2 innings pitched, set in 2014 with High-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Urias presumably will throw upwards of 150 innings this season, though the Dodgers have not publicly revealed a target number.