Beginning with Joc Pederson and continuing with Corey Seager and Julio Urias, the Los Angeles Dodgers have cautiously ushered their blue chip prospects to the Majors. Pederson and Seager joined the Dodgers the September during the season prior to assuming a full role with the club.
The blueprint was seemingly set for Urias, only for a rash of injuries to force the Dodgers’ hand. Urias made his MLB debut May 27, was immediately optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City but returned to make another start five days later.
The prized left-hander stuck with the Dodgers into early July, then spent the remainder of the month bouncing to and from OKC. Urias remained with the team after he was recalled Aug. 3.
Throughout his various roles, the Dodgers carefully monitored Urias’ innings and utilized him out of the bullpen as a means to curtail workload.
Last October, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said restrictions would still be in place for Urias this season.
General manager Farhan Zaidi reiterated that sentiment during a recent interview on MLB Network Radio:
Zaidi on Urias usage: "He'll still be somewhat limited, but if he exceeds expectations… he's getting close to that full work load."
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 25, 2017
Then on Wednesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated the club is considering sending Urias to extended Spring Training, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
One of the options under consideration to limit Julio Urias' innings is to have him begin the season at extended Spring, Roberts said.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) January 25, 2017
Urias, who turned 20 years old last August, threw a combined 127.2 innings last season during time spent in Triple-A and the Majors, postseason included. That was significantly more than his previous career high 87.2 innings pitched, set in 2014.
Current depth provides the Dodgers with the luxury of not necessarily needing Urias at the outset of the season. However, that’s depending on the likes of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, both of whom underwent season-ending surgeries in 2015 and struggled to remain healthy last year.
What may also affect Urias is the conceivable option for the Dodgers to call on Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling or Alex Wood if a starter is temporarily needed.