Dodgers: The Julio Urias Problem Gains Steam With Kershaw Sidelined

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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers the pitch during the seventeenth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers the pitch during the seventeenth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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With news that the Dodgers could start the regular season without Clayton Kershaw, the Julio Urias conundrum gains even more steam.  What will the Dodgers do with their southpaw phenom?

For the first time this spring, Dave Roberts acknowledged that the Dodgers may begin the regular season without their ace left-hander, Clayton Kershaw.  While losing Kershaw is not as big of a deal as it once was, that is due in large part to the Dodgers being well stocked with quality arms in their organization.  The next man up is yet to be decided but it seems to be between Ross Stripling and Julio Urias.

While Julio Urias has dazzled this spring and hit 98 miles per hour in his Monday start, the issue with starting him in the rotation is his innings limit.  Unlike Walker Buehler, the Dodgers are going to limit Julio to around 150 regular season innings after coming back from anterior capsule surgery a season ago.  While the velocity remains promising, the question remains how will young Julio’s shoulder hold up over a long season?

The most logical scenario is for the Dodgers to start the season with Ross Stripling in the rotation and Julio Urias either in the bullpen or held back in an extended spring training.  Stripling earned his first all-star nomination last season by going 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA in a strong first half of the season.  His second half he appeared to hit the fatigue wall and fell out of the rotation after posting an ERA over six in the second half.

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By starting Ross Stripling in the rotation for a month or two, the Dodgers could limit Urias before deploying him in the rotation for the rest of the regular season and postseason.  The problem with that is how dominant Julio has looked this spring.  The lone mistake he has made came on a solo home run by Evan Longoria but other than that he has flashed the dominant stuff that once made him the crown jewel of the Dodgers’ minor league system.

Holding Julio Urias back or starting him in Triple-A to limit his workload is one solution although it may not be the best option.  Julio would still be pitching innings in the minor leagues and as far as the big league Dodgers are concerned, it would be wasted innings that could’ve been used at the big league level.  If everything went according to plan and Kershaw was healthy then it would have been easier to hold young Julio back.

Next. The Dodgers are built for a six man rotation. dark

Now with Kershaw out and no clear timetable for his return, the case against wasting Urias’ innings in Triple-A seems less likely.  The Dodgers are most likely going to start him in the rotation if Clayton misses opening day and they will once again have to find creative ways to limit his innings later on in the season.  It’s a good problem to have if you’re the Dodgers, but still, one they have to figure out the best way to handle.

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