One of the biggest questions marks surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019 will be what role young left-hander Julio Urias plays in his first full season removed from shoulder surgery.
Urias has looked as strong as ever this spring, allowing just one hit and one run, striking out six and walking one in six innings pitched across three Cactus League starts. His fastball has touched 97 mph, which is faster than he threw before the surgery.
If Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler are both healthy and built up enough by the start of the regular season, then there isn’t a spot for Urias in the starting rotation. Though, if one of the two isn’t available, Ross Stripling has already been earmarked to fill the vacancy.
That may end up working out for the best though as the Dodgers have made it clear that they plan to limit Urias’ innings this season.
While they have not revealed how they plan to do that or how many innings he will be restricted to, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the hope is to have Urias pitching without any limitations in the second half of the season, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Roberts also implied that left-hander Julio Urias is more likely to be saved for later in the season. He said Urias’ innings will be capped, but he didn’t have a number.
It was previously reported that the Dodgers are hoping to keep Urias between 70 and 100 innings this season, which seems like an appropriate number for a 22-year-old that hasn’t thrown more than 45 innings since 2016.
If the Dodgers do want to hold Urias back for the second half of the year then it will be interesting to see what they do with him when the club breaks camp in a couple of weeks.
The options include utilizing him as a reliever in the big leagues, keeping him back at extended Spring Training where he can play catch and keep him arm in shape for when he is needed, or send him to Triple-A Oklahoma City to stay on a starter’s routine.
That final option seems a bit counterintuitive though considering Urias only has a certain amount of innings available to him in 2019. With Tony Cingrani being shut down due to shoulder soreness, Urias’ first opportunity with the Dodgers may very well come out of the bullpen.