The Los Angeles Dodgers have handled Julio Urias with extreme caution and care since signing him out of Mexico in August 2012. But on Thursday, the kids gloves are seemingly coming off.
Urias is taking the mound in the four-game series finale against the San Francisco Giants for his first Major League start this season. He spent the past few weeks toiling in extended Spring Training and with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Ahead of Urias’ start, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the gifted left-hander is with the club for the duration of the regular season. The 20-year-old said he feels prepared to shoulder the workload, via SportsNet LA:
“I feel strong. It was honestly a mentality I had all along. You can say my season starts now, and from here on out it’s do my work and try to help the team win.”
Urias was informed by the Dodgers of their plan to slow play him early so that he would have innings available down the stretch of the season and into potential playoff games. What he was not certain of was when the Dodgers would make the call.
During his time with Oklahoma City, Urias threw 14 innings over three starts. He stretched out to 5.2 innings and 93 pitches, and had a season-high six strikeouts in his last outing.
With the Dodgers and OKC last season, postseason included, Urias set a career high with 127.2 innings pitched. He’s may finish in the neighborhood of 160 this season, though the Dodgers have not publicly revealed a target number.