The Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation has been outstanding in the first half of the 2019 season, leading the National League in ERA, innings pitched and batting average against, among other statistics.
With a five-man rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda all pitching well and largely remaining healthy over the last couple months, the Dodgers have not had to use any other starters.
Because of that, pitchers that would be starters for almost any other teams such as Julio Urias and Ross Stripling, have been relegated to relief roles. For Urias, it had more to do with him being on an innings limit in 2019 in his first full season coming off shoulder surgery as opposed to his results.
The Dodgers are currently in the midst of a stretch in which they play 18 straight games through the end of June though, which can be taxing on a starting staff.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts may have a way to help ease the load a bit, which could lead to Urias potentially receiving a start, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:
With the Dodgers at the beginning of a stretch in which they’ll play 18 straight games and 23 games in 24 days, Roberts said he is considering starting reliever Julio Urias, or splitting the bulk of a game between Urias and long reliever Ross Stripling, in order to give each of his five starters an extra day of rest.
Urias had some success as a starter when he was filling in for other injured pitchers during the first month of the season. In four starts during April, he went 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.07
Overall in 16 games this season he has posted a 3.05 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 41 strikeouts and 14 walks in 41.1 innings. He earned a three-inning save against the Chicago Cubs last Thursday.
Urias did face personal hurdles off the field and initially struggled some upon returning from being placed on administrative leave by MLB. He’s bounced back from those and maintained the alleged domestic batter incident was not a factor.
Given the injury history of all members in the Dodgers’ rotation, it makes sense that they want to give them all extra rest whenever possible to keep them fresh for the second half of the season and a potential postseason run.
Having capable spot starters like Urias and Stripling allows them to do that, and this likely won’t be the last time it happens this season.