Julio Urias made a bit of an improbable comeback last season and was on the active rosters for the National League Championship Series and World Series. Still working into form after undergoing shoulder surgery in June 2017, he was expected to begin this year with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
But Urias’ outlook began to change some as he strung together one impressive outing after another in Spring Training. Urias’ performances, coupled with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill each suffering injury, created an opportunity.
Now the young lefty is part of the Opening Day rotation and is slated to make his regular-season debut Monday against the San Francisco Giants. Urias capped of his spring with four perfect innings in which he focused on fastball command and sharpening his overall arsenal.
“I don’t think that we could’ve asked for any more from Julio this spring. The last tuneup, I thought he threw the ball the best that he’s thrown all spring,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Fastball command to all zones, I thought the changeup was good, breaking ball was good. He’s all set.”
Although the Dodgers unexpectedly are beginning the season with Urias part of the rotation, Roberts said the organization is still cognizant of the innings limit that’s in place. Roberts nor the Dodgers have revealed a window or range, but it’s believed to be 70 to 100 innings.
“That’s the thing, for us, there’s no hard number,” Roberts reiterated after watching Urias dominate in the Freeway Series finale. “It’s a read and react. Obviously we have kind of a baseline of what we want but yeah, if he’s throwing well, is strong, feels good, the player tells you as far as how they respond to innings and workload.
“Again, Julio, as an organization, the training staff, we’re all synced up. We just need him to continue to pitch well. Julio, what he’s been through the last couple years and to kind of stay the course, get healthy, kill the rehab, he’s focused. He’s really focused.
“It’s fun to watch him as a young player just kind of mature and be healthy. He’s open to whatever role we have for him right now. He’s going to make a start and whatever happens after that, we’ll see. Again, being healthy, throwing the baseball the way he is, it’s a good thing for us.”
While the plan against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was for Urias to log four innings and continue throwing in the bullpen, Roberts admitted to potentially facing a more difficult decision come the regular season. That’s where discipline will be required.
“Obviously if you’re in a regular-season game, he’s throwing the baseball well and being efficient, there’s always that urge to get another one,” Roberts admitted. “But we have other good arms in the ‘pen and we have to be mindful of the long view with Julio.
“To your question, yes, at times it’s going to be a little bit difficult because when he’s out there he makes us all look good.”