Dodgers: Rich Hill’s Injury Alters the Dodgers’ Plan for Julio Urias
Right when the Dodgers’ roster was in the process of being finalized, the injury bug threw a wrench in the plans for the pitching staff. Rich Hill will begin the season on the IL after straining his knee.
The Dodgers pitching staff was looking set as the team went into the last few games on their spring training slate. Then a wrench was thrown into their plans as Rich Hill sprained his MCL and will miss at least two weeks. Hill’s injury will land him on the injured list and change the plans for the bullpen and rotation.
While an additional spot in the bullpen is now available, the main person that Hill’s injury will impact is Julio Urias. Urias was scheduled to begin the season as the long man in the bullpen, similar to what Ross Stripling has been over the past few seasons when he is not a starter. Now Julio will start the season in the rotation.
How long Urias stays in the rotation remains to be seen but given that Hill is expected to miss two weeks, Julio should get at least three to four starts. Rich will need to make at least one rehab start which means the earliest he should be expected back is in the middle of April.
The bad news for Urias and the Dodgers is that this means they will once again shuffle him between roles and tinker with his pitching routine. Pitchers more than any other baseball player are creatures of routine and habit. Even though the regular season has not yet started, Urias has already shifted between starting and relief roles.
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It’s hard for a pitcher to be their best when they are unable to get into a routine. The Dodgers have tinkered with Julio’s roles since he first came up to the big leagues. It was a mix between shutting him down, sending him to the minors, and letting him start games in the regular season.
Once Hill returns, the Dodgers will send Urias back to the bullpen and he will once again need to change his routine. For a few weeks this shouldn’t be an issue but given the injury history of the players in the rotation, it’s safe to assume more injuries will come at some point in the season. That would lead to a nightmare situation for the Dodgers if they have to keep sending Julio back and forth between the rotation and the pen.
The spring training schedule has just three games remaining after today. Julio Urias will start tomorrow against the Angels and then not make another appearance until his first start against Arizona. The best case scenario is keeping Julio on a regular starting pitcher schedule for a few weeks before sending him back to the bullpen for a couple of months.
The Dodgers have tinkered with Julio’s role plenty of times in his young career. Just when it looked like the team finally had a good plan for him, the injury bug bit and now there will be more shuffling around for Urias. Hopefully once Hill returns the Dodgers can keep Urias in one role for a longer period of time.