Dodgers: Adding Julio Urias to the NLCS Roster was a Mistake
The Dodgers system has talent flowing out its ears. The team is built to win now and for many years after that but part of the Dodgers success has come from how well they build a roster and how careful they are to protect their young players. With the team heading into its second straight NLCS, a decision was made to add Julio Urias to the roster. This decision, unlike many that came before it, was the wrong one.
Julio Urias is undoubtedly one of the most talented pitchers in the organization. At just 22-years old, the young lefty has quite the story to tell. At 19, he debuted in the big leagues and wowed fans with an electric fastball and plus plus breaking ball. At 20-years old, Urias played in just five big league games before tearing part of the anterior capsule in his shoulder which required the Tommy John surgery equivalent for that part of the body. The surgery effectively took him out of the 2017 season and put him on the long road to recovery.
Flash forward to 21-years old and Urias was already rehabbing an injury typically seen in an older player who has been around the game for a long time. The front office and the team’s fans had their worries about the prized young player but Urias was there to prove everyone wrong.
By mid-August, Urias was throwing in the minors and inching closer and closer to getting back to the big leagues except now, the Dodgers had to be more careful than ever to protect the young southpaw from further injuring his freshly repaired shoulder.
He made his debut. The Dodgers’ brass were hesitant to pull the trigger but they did, and Urias, for the first time since early 2017, was back in the Major Leagues.
He pitched well. In just three games and four innings, Urias struck out seven batters and allowed just one base runner on a base hit. So, the results were encouraging and despite the small sample size, Dodger fans were happy to see Urias come back and were just as excited to see him get a full offseason of rest without rehab.
Now, the Dodgers have reached the deepest part of the postseason before the World Series. The roster clicked on cylinders in the NLDS against the Braves and now, right before facing an opponent exponentially harder than the Braves, the Dodgers chose to add Julio Urias to the roster.
This decision is terrible for a few reasons. First, Urias is young and not stretched out enough to come into high leverage situations or pitch on back to back nights. His arm is still tender and recovering from a very serious surgery. Expecting him to come in and be a heroic reliever is unreasonable and, quite honestly, it is dangerous to his recovery and development.
Second, Urias has worked hard this year and the Dodgers have now chosen to extend his season. Enough was enough, and now they are pushing the limits on a player they should not be pushing. Of all times to throw caution to the wind, this was the wrong time.
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Lastly, adding Urias to the roster takes Scott Alexander out of the mix for this series. Alexander has been a mainstay in the bullpen and a bridge to Kenley Jansen at the end of games. His ability to produce a quick ground ball in a pinch is invaluable and he has done just that for the last month. The Dodgers removed an asset from the pen for a player who is not ready to contribute the same amount as his predecessor.
While it may be hard to see, let’s look at this from another angle- the counter-argument. Urias could be the right move here. If the Dodgers are bringing him on to just face left-handed batters and get guys like Christian Yelich out, there is an argument to be made. While he is still largely unproven, Urias is more consistent than Alexander and that consistency will be key to winning this series.
In the end, the decision to put Julio Urias on the roster is questionable. You lose a guy in Alexander who has been fantastic for the Dodgers lately and replace him with a player that Dave Roberts will have to babysit throughout the series. He can not pitch in back to back games and he should be used very carefully in higher-leverage situations. If the Dodgers wanted the sure bet, Urias was the wrong move.