Dodgers: You Shouldn’t Count on Julio Urias at all This Year

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20: Starting pitcher Julio Urias
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20: Starting pitcher Julio Urias /

Anterior capsule surgery: the fancy name for the operation that involves repairing tissue in the shoulder. The recovery time on the operation is lengthy, 12 to 14 months to be exact, and the track record of success is spotty at best.

When 20-year-old Dodgers’ phenom, Julio Urias, went down with a shoulder injury, and the result was he needed the Tommy John of shoulders, the future looked bleak.

Urias underwent the surgery. In mid-June of his second big league season, the young lefty was already going under the knife. According to the doctor, “Everything went very well, and the outlook is better than expected.” This was a huge relief for the Dodgers as their young pitcher, whose fate was once quite uncertain, had some positivity to his unsettling story.

With the surgery successful, the recovery process began. In what seemed like just weeks, Urias was already working out and well on his way to getting back on the diamond. Months later he was holding and lightly tossing a baseball, and just a week ago he was spotted throwing (yes, throwing) at the Dodgers’ spring training facility.

While this is great and he is way ahead of schedule, fans not only should expect very little from Julio in 2018 but they should pray the Dodgers take their foot off the gas in his recovery.

Bringing a player back too early from a surgery such as this one is a grave mistake. Essentially, anterior capsule surgery involves the repairing of large tears in the tissue in a shoulder. If pushed too hard, these newly sewn rips in the fabric that is the pitcher’s body could re-tear and result in a career-ending operation and, there are just too many reasons to risk this with Julio.

First and foremost, his youth. At just 20 years old, Urias can miss the entire 2018 season and still be younger than most prospects upon his return. Even though it has been cited as a reason for an early comeback, the Dodgers should use Julio’s youth in their favor and keep him far away from game action until either late this season or early in the offseason.

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Second on the list is the Dodgers’ depth. If three pitchers were to go down, the team could replace them without even looking to the minor leagues. The Dodgers have so many pitchers that one could argue it is time to make some trades. This right here is a great reason to keep Urias far away from a game in the foreseeable future.

Say the team decided to bring him back in mid-August. He will need to rehab in Triple-A for at least eight to eleven starts, and then the team could consider bringing him back. If he is not fully ready to go, his spot on the roster may be barred anyway and he will have nowhere to go but Oklahoma City. If Urias needs to play this year, it should be in the majors, and the team should not be wasting any of his precious innings in the minor leagues.

The third, final, and most important reason to not rush Julio Urias back is the track record of the surgery. While it has had many patients, Johan Santana is the most compelling story. In 2010, Santana suffered the identical injury as Urias. He underwent the operation and spent nearly two years recovering from the injury. EVERYONE WAS CONVINCED HE WAS FINE. I capitalize it because I want everyone to understand the after two years everyone thought the two time Cy Young award winner was healthy. He wasn’t.  

Santana came back in 2012 and pitched what was arguably the worst season of his career. His ERA was the highest it had been since his rookie season, and his ERA+ was 21 points below league average. Some people blame his age for his downfall, but I argue that person is wrong. Santana pitched poorly because he was never the same after having surgery. His velocity and control plummeted and just like that he began to experience shoulder pain.

Santana had a second round of the same surgery and this time it ended and incredible career short. You do not want that for Urias.

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Julio Urias is young, talented and motivated as ever to come back to the field. But, with a long and bright future still ahead of him, rushing him back from one of the most serious injuries in baseball is foolish and unnecessary. Expect Urias to lay pretty low this year and be thankful it is so.