The Dodgers originally planned on moving Julio Urias to the rotation in the later stages of the season. They may want to reconsider that plan.
Entering the 2019 season, the Dodgers thought they had a plan for Julio Urias. Entering his first full season since surgery for an anterior capsule injury, the Dodgers were not going to start Urias off as a starting pitcher. Due to injuries in spring training, he briefly did, but he was then moved back to the bullpen.
The Dodgers were not going to insert Urias into the rotation again until the last few months of the season. It is time for them to scrap that plan. Not only has the starting rotation been one of the best in baseball, but the bullpen has been one of the most mediocre in the league. Keeping Julio Urias in the bullpen would bolster the pen and help it become a strength if the club adds another good reliever before the trade deadline.
Out of the bullpen, the Dodgers have mainly used Julio as a multi-inning reliever. Pitching every four to five days, for the most part, he comes in and gives the team a few innings. In Thursday’s win over the Cubs, Julio backed up Clayton Kershaw and pitched three shutout innings earning his third save of the season.
Regardless of whether the Dodgers decide to use Urias in one or multi-inning outings, he will provide the team more value pitching out of the bullpen. The Dodgers have a good rotation without Julio, and with the bullpen needing all the help it can get he gives the team a bigger boost in the pen. A playoff rotation of Ryu, Kershaw, Buehler, and Hill is more than good enough to get the Dodgers back to the World Series.
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In the bullpen, Julio Urias could have a Josh Hader type impact for the blue. As he did Thursday night, he can trail a starter and close out the last two or three innings of a game. Or as he did last postseason when he retired Christian Yelich for one of the biggest outs of the NLCS, he can come in for a few batters in the late innings of the game.
This season, Julio has been working his way into being a reliever and things were a little rough when he first transitioned to the bullpen. He has settled in lately and in June he has held the opposition to a .100 batting average. He has also allowed just two hits in six innings of relief work this season.
Julio has been effective against both left and right-handed batters with better reverse splits. He has held right-handed hitters to a .175 batting average compared to a .267 average against lefties. No matter what role the Dodgers use Julio in, he has the stuff to dominate whether it’s in the rotation or the bullpen.
The season is a marathon and things can change quickly due to injuries or fatigue, but right now Julio Urias has more value to the Dodgers by pitching out of the bullpen. Assuming the Dodgers keep their rotation intact, the club should keep Julio Urias in the bullpen for 2019. Not only will it eliminate concern about his workload, but it will also help boost a Dodger pen that could all the help it can get.