Dodgers: Why Julio Urias Should Make the Opening Day Rotation
Julio Urias is the player all Dodger fans are waiting to see where he ends up come Opening Day. He’s been compared to Fernando Valenzuela and Clayton Kershaw who will both go down as Dodger greats. Only w.ith time will we be able to tell if he holds up to such high standards.
Urias made his MLB debut on May 27, 2016, against the New York Mets. He struggled in the first inning surrendering three runs. What most baseball fans saw from this start was a 19-year-old prospect who wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues. The Dodgers saw was a 19-year-old pitcher who was calm and collected the entire time he was on the mound.
No matter how bad it got for Urias you’d never be able to see he was struggling. He showed a little shakiness in his control that day walking four batters but also showed his dominance by striking out three. Urias only pitched 2.2 innings but demonstrated his poise by competing.
Urias’ composure and the ability to work out of a tough situation is exactly why he should make the Opening Day rotation. After using 15 starting pitchers in 2016 the Dodgers need some stability in their starting rotation. Urias could give them just that.
With Kershaw, Hill, and Maeda locking up the first three spots in the rotation. This allows Urias to settle in the at the back of the rotation while also leaving the option to move starts around to allow the extra rest.
Dave Roberts has spoken to the media about possibly extending Urias’ spring training. By doing this it would help keep the number of innings down this year. This allows the Dodgers to keep Urias fresh until they are ready to use him in October.
Bringing him up for a few starts to get him comfortable before the games really start to matter may take some of the stress off of Urias. Urias threw for a total of 127 ⅔ innings between the minors and the big league. 77 of these innings were thrown at the major-league level.
It’s reasonable for the Dodgers to believe he could hit the 125 to 150 inning mark. Whether it be from starts or out of the bullpen, his innings will be something Roberts and the training staff will monitor. Too many innings after this mark could be too much strain on his arm and jeopardize his future.
During his rookie season, Urias also got his first taste of a major league playoff game against the Washington Nationals. In his first postseason appearance, he locked it down with a solid 2.0 innings pitched. While only giving up 1 hit against the 7 batters he faced and striking out one in which he recorded the win.
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However, in his second appearance against the World Series Champion, Chicago Cubs he struggled a lot. Urias gave up four earned runs off of four hits in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Even though Urias got the loss in this game he still struck out four batters against the third best offense in baseball.
Although Urias took a tough loss in game 4 he still pitched in a historic game becoming the youngest pitcher to start a postseason game in major-league history. During his postseason appearances, Urias showed great poise for a 19-year-old.
Urias’ trainer, Rafael Arroyo, who is a trainer for other up and coming pitchers had some positive things to say about Urias’ training in an MLB article written by Jesse Sanchez.
"“Physically, [Urias] is getting to know and learn about his body,” Arroyo said. “He’s learning about the importance of nutrition and diet to carry him through a long season. He asks a lot of questions and you can tell he’s taking an initiative to understand and learn about the workouts.”"
This is all very good news for the team because even at 20-years-old Urias shows so much dedication to his career and is always willing to do whatever it takes to take his game to the next level.
Whether or not Urias is in the opening day rotation is something the team will continue to discuss as the season gets closer. One thing is certain, Urias has the talent and poise to perform at the major league level.
Unfortunately, if Urias starts the season in the starting rotation he may end up in the bullpen for some part of the season.
Next: Addressing the Starting Rotation Questions
We know Urias is going to be limited. It’s when the Dodgers want to utilize those innings is what has Urias’ roster spot in question. I’d say let Urias get comfortable early, limit him mid-season, and stretch him out during the pennant race.