When the Los Angeles Dodgers were sorting through their options for the starting rotation, their depth figured to spill into the bullpen and help fortify that group. Specifically with Ross Stripling and Julio Urias likely filling hybrid roles.
Injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill changed the outlook come Opening Day, but once both returned, Stripling and Urias returned to the bullpen. Their presence provided an initial boon but the unit has struggled with consistency this season.
With Caleb Ferguson currently in Triple-A Oklahoma City and Tony Cingrani not anywhere near a return from the 10-day injured list, Scott Alexander has been relied upon as the left-handed specialist.
Alexander surrendered a grand slam during the New York Mets series, which prompted more discussion about roles. Considering how well he’s pitched thus far in 2019, some believe Urias could take Alexander’s spot.
Roberts explained why the Dodgers don’t intend to utilize Urias as any sort of specialist, via SportsNet LA:
“I think with Julio, we’ve talked about when we use him, it’s a multiple inning situation. We don’t see him as a lefty specialist, and to use him in short spurts or back-to-back, things like that. It’s a fair question, we thought about it. But I think right now we’re going to stay the course and count on Scott continuing to get better, get the ball down and handling left-handed hitters.”
Alexander’s appearances are typically short and he is primarily matched up against opposing left-handed batters. In contrast, Urias’ previous experience as a starting pitcher gives him the versatility of logging multiple innings out of the bullpen on any given night.
When considering this, it makes sense that Roberts didn’t want to use him so early in the event that the game reached extra innings. Furthermore, Roberts previously made note of not changing Urias’ role yet again.
The 22-year-old, who was recently reinstated from a seven-day administrative leave, made an appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park last week and logged two scoreless innings.
Urias recently took the mound on Wednesday against the Mets and yielded four hits and two runs in one inning of work. He then surrendered a game-tying, two-run home run to Bryce Harper on Saturday.
In 12 games (four starts) this season, Urias is 3-2 with a 3.78 ERA, 3.71 FIP and 1.11 WHIP over 33.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 36 batters compared to issuing just nine walks.