Last Thursday the Los Angeles Dodgers began a stretch of 18 consecutive games without an off day. It started with a four-game set against the Chicago Cubs but otherwise is loaded with National League West opponents.
Given the heavy stretch in the schedule, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated the club was contemplating using a spot starter — likely Julio Urias — before the calendar flips to June. The possibility became all the more likely when a comebacker hit Kenta Maeda hit in his right hand on Monday night.
Maeda finished the play and threw a warm-up pitch as Roberts and a trainer watched, before remaining in the game. However, he dealt with some stiffness and was sent for an X-ray after pitching just five innings.
Although it came back negative, the Dodgers intend to provide Maeda with extra rest before his next turn and at that point will likely give Urias a spot start, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Roberts didn’t say who, but he confirmed a spot starter will be inserted into the rotation “in the next three or four days,” before Kenta Maeda’s next start to give his bruised right wrist an extra day to heal.
After last pitching June 13 — completing a three-inning save in the series opener against the Cubs — Urias was first to follow Maeda out of the bullpen. Though the young left-hander has often been used in multiple-inning stints, he only pitched the sixth.
That could have been related to Urias struggling with command as he issued two walks that led to an unearned run scoring which wound up being the difference in the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss.
When injuries led to Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill beginning the season on the 10-day injured list, Urias was part of the Opening Day rotation and made four starts before shifting into a role out of the bullpen.
He went 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA and held opponents to a .189/.277/.365 batting line during those outings. Overall this season, Urias is 3-2 with three saves, a 3.05 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 1.07 WHIP in 16 games.
The Dodgers view him as a starter but continue to utilize Urias in a hybrid role as he works to build an innings base. Progress toward accomplishing that was delayed when he required season-ending shoulder surgery in 2017, making 2019 his first full year back on the mound.