Dodgers 2019 Player Previews: Julio Urias Remains a Wildcard
The Dodgers’ pitchers and catchers will soon report to spring training and get the ball rolling towards the 2019 regular season. First up in the 2019 previews is the still talented young left-hander, Julio Urias.
It seems hard to believe but going into the 2019 season, Julio Urias will still be just twenty-two years old. He will be 22 for most of the season as he will not turn twenty-three until August. Even with a missed year and what feels like a lengthy minor league rise with the Dodgers where he started in 2013, Urias is still very young and remains a big wildcard for the Dodgers in 2019.
The Dodgers added Julio to their playoff roster in 2018 despite pitching just four innings at the Major League level. In those four innings, he allowed no runs, one hit, and struck out seven batters. His fastball averaged 93 miles per hour and he convinced the team that he could be a difference maker out of the bullpen in October. In six-plus postseason innings, Urias pitched to a 2.84 ERA and allowed a .174 opponent’s average.
He recorded one of the Dodgers’ most important outs of 2018 when he got NL MVP, Christian Yelich, to fly out to left field in game seven of the NLCS. Chris Taylor’s sliding catch helped make the out possible. For 2019, it’s not yet known what path young Julio will take. The Dodgers would like to use him as a starter but the rotation is set in stone with Kershaw, Buehler, Hill, Ryu, and Maeda all part of a strong rotation.
As we’ve seen in recent seasons, that starting rotation will likely run into injuries at some point so there will eventually be an opening for Julio Urias. The Dodgers are not going to get 180-200 innings out of Urias so he will likely start the season in extended spring training or in Triple-A where his innings can be limited without hurting the big league club. It has already been stated that Urias will not pitch in a relief role in 2019, so unless there is a change of heart those are the two options barring injuries.
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Urias is coming off anterior capsule shoulder surgery which is a lot less common than Tommy John surgery. There is a chance he could show up in 2019 throwing even harder than 2018 but over a bigger workload, it will be interesting to see if his velocity dips. Dodger reliever Scott Alexander underwent the same surgery in 2011 and averaged 93.3 miles per hour on his fastball last season so there is hope that Julio could remain in the mid 90’s when he pitches more innings.
However the Dodgers choose to utilize Urias for the 2019 season, they will have an elite weapon whether they choose to stick him in the rotation or shift him back into a relief role. Julio remains a true wildcard for the 2019 season as his role in the big leagues remains to be determined.
If Urias is reinserted into the Dodgers’ rotation he could be another elite starter that Dodger fans hoped to acquire in Corey Kluber. If he comes out of the bullpen, he could be a shutdown reliever in the late innings. It’s just another luxury the Dodgers have in 2019 and a good problem to have in how to utilize their talented young southpaw.