Sitting below .500 and struggling to establish any sort of consistency, there are multiple issues that plague the Los Angeles Dodgers. What seems to draw the most attention, just as in seasons prior, is the bullpen’s struggles.
Outside of Joe Blanton, Louis Coleman and Kenley Jansen, Dodgers relievers have again been consistently inconsistent. Though, it should be noted the offense certainly hasn’t done the pitching staff any favors over prolonged stretches.
With the Dodgers needing some sort of spark, many believe the answer currently resides with Triple-A Oklahoma City in the form of top pitching prospect Julio Urias.
The 19-year-old lefty has dazzled this season in his first extended experience at the Triple-A level. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remarked earlier this month the club held discussions on calling Urias up, though a move doesn’t appear imminent.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently stressed the importance of continuing to be cautious with the handling or Urias:
“In Julio’s case, in particular, it’s a little more unique because of how advanced he is at such a young age,” Friedman said. “I think as an industry we know more about how to limit starting pitcher injuries than we did 10 years ago, but there’s no question in my mind we’ll know significantly more five years from now.
“I think it’s important not to overstate what you don’t know, but until we know more, you almost always have to err on the side of caution.”
In eight games (seven starts) this season, Urias is 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA and 0.78 WHIP to go along with 44 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. He leads the Pacific Coast League in ERA and WHIP, and has a streak of 27 consecutive scoreless innings.
Urias continues to operate under an innings/pitch limit this season as the Dodgers closely monitor his workload, with the left-hander yet to throw more than six innings in a single start. Friedman did previously note he saw improvement this year in Urias that lent to the belief he could have an impact with the Dodgers in 2016.
While Urias is expected to make his Major League debut at some point this season, when that will remains an unknown.