Dodgers: Julio Urias settling into multi-inning relief role

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PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 05: Relief pitcher Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 05, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona.The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 05: Relief pitcher Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 05, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona.The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers have wondered how they would incorporate Julio Urias into their postseason roster all season. The answer is becoming more clear by the outing for Urias.

At the start of the 2019 season, the Dodgers pondered how they would use Julio Urias all season in order to keep him available for the postseason.  Less than a full season after coming back from anterior capsule surgery, the Dodgers were not going to let Julio throw a ton of innings in 2019.  If he wasn’t starting, how would the club use him?

While there is still no definitive answer, it’s starting to become more clear by the outing that Julio Urias can be an x-factor out of the bullpen in October for LA.  Last night, thanks to a rain delay, Julio came out of the bullpen and pitched 2 2/3 innings while allowing no earned runs.  Julio allowed just one hit while he struck out three batters.

It was a great example of how Julio can save the bullpen after a short playoff start while keeping the Dodgers in the game.  Kenta Maeda went just two innings although it was due to a rain delay.  If one of the Dodgers’ playoff starters has a short outing, Urias can come into the game and pitch multiple innings while keeping the Dodgers in the game.  There always seems to be at least one or two short starts in the postseason.

Prior to Wednesday night’s outing, Julio had not allowed a run over his last sixteen innings pitched.  In that span, the opposition has just four hits with fifteen strikeouts.  Whether it’s keeping the team in a game after a short outing or pitching multiple innings in a Josh Hader type role, Julio Urias has found a home in the bullpen for the 2019 season at least.

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As a reliever this season, Julio has posted a 1.76 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.  That is much better than his 3.18 ERA in five starts.  Given the team’s starting pitching depth and bullpen woes, it makes sense to keep Urias in his relief role since he is settling into it.

If the Dodgers want to get unconventional they could use another starter as an “opener” similar to how the rain delay made last night’s game played out.  Maeda went two innings and was followed by Urias who went almost three innings.  It’s certainly something for Andrew Friedman to think about if Rich Hill doesn’t make it back.

Despite being the only left-handed reliever in the bullpen, Julio is much more than a left-handed specialist.  Thanks to right-handers with reverse splits like Pedro Baez, the Dodgers are able to use Urias in an extended role against left and right-handed batters.  As long as the Dodgers acquire another southpaw reliever before the deadline, they are free to use Urias in longer stints.

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The Dodgers have one of the most talented young southpaws in the game, in Julio Urias.  Now it’s up to the front office to determine how best to use Julio’s talents.  With Urias settling into his relief role for the Dodgers, it appears that the club should leave him in the bullpen even if they go out and acquire another elite reliever.

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