Dodgers: Why Julio Urias Should Not Start 2017 In The Majors

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Oct 19, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (7) throws against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning during game four of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (7) throws against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning during game four of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Coming into spring training the Dodgers are armed with plenty of starting pitchers, but not enough rotation spots. Numbers one through three spots are locked in, but Julio Urias’ spot in the rotation is still in question.

Battling for the Dodgers’ final rotation spots are Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Julio Urias, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and to a lesser extent Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart.

Julio Urias is without a doubt the most talented of the aforementioned pitchers. But the issue is the front office wants to limit his workload since he is only twenty years old.

In 2016 Urias threw 122 innings between AAA and the majors, which are the most he has thrown in his young career. The Dodgers have a few options for limiting Urias’ innings.

  1. Let Urias begin the season in the rotation and shut him down at some point to save some innings for the postseason.
  2. Hold him back in extended spring training and call him up later in the season to pitch the end of the season and into October.

The best option for the club is to hold Urias back in extended spring training and let him rejoin the rotation in May or June. Pitchers are creatures of habit, so starting the season with Urias and shutting him down for a few weeks or months will mess with his pitching routine.

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By holding him back early in the season, Urias won’t have to tinker with his routine once they insert him into the rotation. Also, holding Urias back to start the season will serve the Dodgers useful by creating opportunities for the veterans.

Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy both have big contracts and if they begin the season in the rotation and pitch well. The Dodgers may be able to trade one or both of them to free up space in the rotation.

Finding a trade partner would be ideal and would clear rotation spots for Julio Urias and Alex Wood. Two pitchers who are both talented with greater upside. Although that may be unlikely, they still have plenty of big league ready options.

To better illustrate that the Dodgers are capable of holding the fort down with Urias in the minors, let’s take a look at a few stat lines:

Player A– 3.39 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 3.17 FIP

Player B– 3.96 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 3.90 FIP

Player C– 3.73 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 3.18 FIP

Can you guess which player is which? Player A is statistically the best of the three but the gap is not astronomical. Player A is Julio Urias, player B is Ross Stripling, and player C is Alex Wood. The not so astronomical splits between these three pitchers show that the team would be fine without Urias to start the season.

Dave Roberts shouldn’t rush Urias to the big leagues. Even if McCarthy or Kazmir are injured to start the season it wouldn’t be the end of the season. The Dodgers could plug in Stripling or Wood to get the quality innings they need until Urias is ready to rejoin the major league rotation.

There is no doubt Urias is destined to become a Dodger star. But in order to protect his arm and make sure he is ready for the most important part of the season, the Dodgers are better off holding him back from the start.

Next: Why Urias Should Make the Opening Day Rotation

Dave Roberts has the luxury of being able to wait for Urias to contribute in the big leagues. So there’s no reason to rush Urias into the big leagues. We know he’s ready to pitch, but do we need to use his innings early in the season? In my opinion, extended spring training would be the better option than letting him start the season and shutting him down midseason.

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