The Dodgers were dealt disheartening news when it was announced Julio Urias would need shoulder surgery and miss at least twelve months. Capsule shoulder surgery is a lot rarer than other shoulder surgeries and brings some uncharted territory with it.
Urias’s injury sends shock waves through the Dodgers’ organization as only a handful of pitchers have ever had this surgery, and only Chris Young of the Royals has come back and pitched effectively at the Major League level after it. Other pitchers who had capsule surgery are Rich Harden, Mark Prior, and Johan Santana.
The uncertainty of the impact it will have on Julio’s career will change the outlook for several players on the Dodgers major league and minor league rosters. The impact will be felt not only in 2017 but also in 2018 since Urias will not be able to return until late next season and that is if he encounters no setbacks.
Major League Impact
The Dodgers were rumored to be seeking a front of the rotation starting pitcher even before the injury to Urias. So now they will likely ramp up those trade talks given that Alex Wood has already had some shoulder issues this season and Urias is no longer the savior toward the back end of the season. Brandon McCarthy briefly dealt with a case of wildness Sunday which brought out reminders of his bout with the yips and Hyun-Jin Ryu is still trying to make it back all the way from labrum surgery. Given these potential risks, the Dodgers would be smart to look at a front end of the rotation starter now that Julio Urias is not going to come to the rescue in 2017.
Due to Urias’s injury, Dave Roberts will now need either Hyun-Jin Ryu or Kenta Maeda to step up and claim the fifth spot in the rotation. If Urias was healthy, it’s possible both Ryu and Maeda would have been sent to the bullpen, but now there will always be at least one rotation spot open for Ryu or Maeda unless the Dodgers acquire another starting pitcher. Given both are signed for 2018 they could be more useful beyond this year than the Dodgers anticipated, especially Ryu who will be entering a contract year next season.
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Scott Kazmir is also another big league veteran who could now be called upon due to Urias’s injury. Kazmir is currently working his way back from hip problems that caused a big decrease in velocity. He just had his first rehab start last night and pitched fairly well while sitting at 90 mph. Should the club continue to get bit by the injury bug, then they could have Kazmir ramp up his recovery program. It was reported a few weeks ago that Kazmir was now throwing in the low 90’s after only sitting in the high 80’s during spring training.
Minor League Impact
Before going down for the season, Julio Urias was the next man up regarding a starting pitcher being recalled by the Dodgers. Now the major league ready starting pitchers at Triple-A are Trevor Oaks and Brock Stewart. Stewart was used as a reliever with the Dodgers recently but is now going to be stretched out at Triple-A as a starting pitcher. Oaks has not yet made his Major League debut but has made 13 starts for the Oklahoma City Dodgers and has a solid 3.69 ERA.
If Urias were healthy Trevor Oaks, in particular, would never have gotten a chance to start but now with an injury Oaks could be next in line to make his Major League debut. If the Dodgers choose to put Ross Stripling back into the starting pitcher role, then that would be another way for Stewart and Oaks to get the call. Stripling’s potential recall to the rotation is also based on Urias not being available.
Before succumbing to a bum shoulder, Julio Urias was the crown jewel of the Dodgers farm system. Now with his future in doubt, the prized arms are Yadier Alvarez and Walker Buehler. The Dodgers could be more hesitant to deal one of them now that they could potentially never see Urias rise to the star level he was supposed to.
Trevor Oaks was probably the Dodger prospect most likely to be traded since he doesn’t have a superstar ceiling, but now the Dodgers could also choose to hang onto him. It will be interesting to see over the next month how the Dodgers handle the trade deadline and prospects since every prospect is going to get bumped up on the depth chart.
The loss of Julio Urias does more than just rob the Dodgers of a potential boost to their pitching rotation. It creates more urgency in their search for a top end pitcher and it also creates makes their other pitching prospects more valuable than ever. Andrew Friedman and company now have to move forward as if Urias will never return to form. Let’s see how the Dodger’s front office handles the uncertainty they have been dealt.