Months before the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a blockbuster trade for Mookie Betts and David Price and sent Kenta Maeda to the Minnesota Twins, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated Julio Urias would be a member of the starting rotation in 2020.
At the time the Dodgers had not only yet to acquire Price, but Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu both remained free agents. Of course, Hill went on to sign with the Twins, and Ryu joined the Toronto Blue Jays.
Even with Price entering the picture, it left two open spots in the rotation. That was pared down to one over recent weeks with Friedman and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts both reiterating Urias will be part of the equation.
While Monday’s relief appearance against the Cincinnati Reds was not necessarily an audition, Urias struggled in his first Cactus League game of the year. However, that wasn’t of any concern to Roberts, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Julio’s fine,” said Roberts. “Getting him into a normal routine, he’s going to get better. We’ve just got to keep running him out there.”
Urias also took a measured evaluation of his performance:
“A little bit of a command issue,” said Urias. “The fastball was running. There were some balls I thought were strikes, but the umpire didn’t agree with me. I felt good, actually better than in my last live [batting practice], but it just wasn’t my day.”
The young left-hander immediately faced traffic as an error allowed the leadoff man to reach base in the third inning. A walk followed, and later an RBI single and sacrifice fly put the Dodgers in a 4-1 deficit.
Urias threw 27 pitches prior to being removed with two outs in the inning. Both of the runs he allowed were unearned.
In addition to pitching in a role he’s not projected to fill at this time, Urias also was working on implementing a semi-windup. He’s hopeful such a delivery will assist with settling into a more consistent rhythm.
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