Four games into their 2017 schedule of Cactus League games, the Los Angeles Dodgers are handing the ball to Julio Urias. Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood have yet to start a game. Kazmir is likely to take the hill Wednesday night in Scottsdale against the San Francisco Giants.
While the Dodgers have yet to set their starting rotation, Urias following Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda is certainly a plausible scenario for the regular season. However, the club isn’t expected to carry Urias on their active roster come Opening Day.
There’s been talk of stashing the prized left-hander in extended Spring Training as a means of controlling Urias’ usage this season. Allowing Urias to gain experience without potentially compromising his future has proven to be a juggling act.
“We’re continuing to kind of talk it through,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts when asked if the organization had decided on a course of action. “Ultimately, it’s what’s best for Julio and for us.”
“There’s a certain innings limit he’s going to have this year. We all understand that, we all accept that. We want him to be ready to go in September and beyond. As our rotation takes shape, it will give us more information.”
Roberts had previously surmised answers in rotation, bench and bullpen would become clear in mid-March. The Dodgers have not ruled out the possibility of a midseason shut down for Urias, in the event he’s part of the rotation through the early stages of the year.
What is clear is the organization does not believe the 20-year-old is at the stage of being able to make 32 starts or throw 200-plus innings this season. Urias threw 127.2 innings last season during time spent in Triple-A and the Majors, postseason included. His previous career high 87.2 innings pitched, set in 2014.
For as much as Urias may desire to have the restraints removed, he’s consistently voiced support of the Dodgers’ decision(s). On Monday, Roberts referred to Urias as a “faithful soldier” in light of shifting between roles since making his MLB debut last season.