Dodgers: Is Julio Urias the backup plan for Rich Hill?
Yesterday the Dodgers announced that Julio Urias would build up his endurance while on suspension. Could he be the backup plan for Rich Hill?
In the flurry of news that came out before Sunday’s series finale in Atlanta, there were two interesting tidbits. The first one is that Julio Urias would build up his endurance while he serves the remainder of his twenty game suspension. The second was that Dustin May could take Urias’ multiple inning relief role while Julio is out.
While this could just be building up Urias to pitch more innings out of the bullpen in October, the other thing to take from this is the possibility of Julio being a starter in the postseason. While Rich Hill has been progressing well and now has a chance to be the club’s fourth playoff starter, there is always the possibility that Hill either runs out of time to build up his pitch count, or a setback occurs.
Having Julio Urias built up to start if a setback occurs would be a wise move for the Dodgers. After all, Urias has not yet pitched on back to back days and it has become clear he might not be able to do that. That could change in September but up until this point, it seems that is something the Dodgers want to avoid.
Before the season, Urias was said to be on an innings limit of around 100 innings. He currently has pitched 67 2/3 innings and is now on the shelf until September 2nd. While the Dodgers have been known to scrap their original plan on an innings limit, it’s not clear if that is still the plan the team is going with.
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A few September starts for Julio Urias would still keep him under the 100 innings limit. Especially if he is limited to five innings per start which would not be an issue with expanded September rosters. Then there was the other news that Dustin May could assume Julio’s multi-inning reliever role.
That sounds like the Dodgers are preparing for if they do need to start Urias in the postseason. Having Urias and May both in the bullpen and unable to pitch back to back days would be an interesting strategy but one that could backfire. That will be something to watch, if Dustin May pitches out of the bullpen on back to back days or if he pitches a few innings every three to four days.
May made his first relief appearance in the big leagues on Sunday and it didn’t go very well. May pitched two innings and allowed four runs. All four runs came in one inning, courtesy of a grand slam by Rafael Ortega. Despite the rough outing, May will get plenty more opportunities to show he can pitch effectively out of the bullpen.
While Dustin May is not on a known innings limit, he has maxed out at 134 innings in his minor league career and is about ten innings away from tying that mark. How far the Dodgers want to push Dustin May is another factor that will come into the fourth playoff starter equation.
Although the postseason is a certainty for the Dodgers, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding their roster. Who will be the fourth playoff starter? How does their postseason bullpen sort out? These are questions that will still need to be answered in September.