The Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to shut down Tony Cingrani will open opportunities for two of their top young pitchers to make the team’s Opening Day Roster.
Although the Dodgers view Julio Urias and Caleb Ferguson as starting pitchers, they each have made more of an impact for the club out of the bullpen. And with Cingrani to begin the season on the injured list, both figure to receive more opportunities at the Major League level as a reliever.
Though the organization has built up both pitchers as starters and still sees them as such in the long term, they could be used for multiple innings in a role out of the bullpen, per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick:
“It just gives other guys opportunities,” said manager Dave Roberts. “The main thing with Julio, we want to continue to build him up. With where our starters are built up, namely Clayton [Kershaw] and Walker [Buehler, both returning from sore arms], the length that Julio gives us makes sense. And Caleb, to build him up, which we’re trying to do, to give us more length, makes him a better fit for our roster as well.”
Urias has been particularly dominant this spring. In six innings over three games, all of which he started, the former top prospect has only allowed one hit, one run and one walk while striking out six.
However, the Dodgers are once again slow-playing Urias’s innings workload and would prefer to save him for later in the season as they anticipate contending for the playoffs once again.
Ferguson has struggled far more in the preseason. He has a 9.64 ERA over 4.2 Cactus League innings, with seven runs allowed on 10 hits while striking out seven.
Clayton Kershaw, meanwhile, has dealt with a shoulder issue for virtually all of Spring Training, putting his eight-year Opening Day starting streak in jeopardy. Roberts has not yet ruled Kershaw out for Opening Day, but admitted the possibility is “unlikely.”
Walker Buehler, meanwhile, is still ramping up his innings workload while working his way back. He will make his first Cactus League start early next week.
If either Kershaw or Buehler is not healthy to start the season, Roberts has already named Ross Stripling as the Dodgers’ first option to fill in for them in the rotation.