Zach Lee, Julio Urias to Split Time Against Storm Chasers

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(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In what is turning out to be a very curious development in Omaha, the Oklahoma City Dodgers have decided to split time between righty Zach Lee and lefty Julio Urias on Thursday evening.

After an off day on Wednesday, Urias would normally take his turn in the rotation to open the series against the Storm Chasers, however, Lee, who was recalled by the Dodgers on April 23, then optioned back to Triple-A on April 26, hasn’t pitched competitively since throwing 5-1/3 innings against Nashville on April 18.

It has been reported that Lee will start the game, with Urias slated to appear in the bottom of the sixth inning, regardless of how long Lee lasts.

While speculation has risen surrounding several theories involving conceivable MLB call-ups, the Wednesday strategy could be OKC’s simple resolution of having the two face live hitting without any further delays, instead of complicating the current starting rotation schedule down the road.

Lee was in contention for the Dodgers’ fifth starter job at the end of Cactus League play, but was passed by in favor of fellow prospect Ross Stripling. Beginning the season in the Pacific Coast League, he has been very sharp in his first three starts, posting a 1.56 ERA in 17-1/3 innings with a 14 strikeouts against only one walk.

Lee’s best start of the young 2016 campaign came on Opening Day at Nashville, when he threw six solid innings surrendering only three hits, while allowing no walks or runs.

In his first three starts of the season, Urias is 2-1 with an even 3.00 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. He has tallied 20 strikeouts against only two walks while flaunting a meager .193 batting average against.

With the Dodgers amidst a three-game losing streak, unwarranted opinions and conjecture among fans have been stirring regarding several starters, most specifically Alex Wood, Scott Kazmir and Stripling. Many have even hypothesized that Urias is auditioning for a spot in the Dodgers’ big league bullpen.

Urias hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning all season, and maybe this is the Dodgers’ way of seeing how he reacts in late-game scenarios. Or perhaps the decision does indeed revolve around some type of prospective big league transaction.

Regardless, we’ll try to provide an update and a bit of analysis right here at the conclusion of the contest. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m. central time.

*****

Update: Zach Lee lasted only 3-1/3 innings, surrendering 10 runs (9 earned), 9 hits (including two home runs) and two walks, while striking out two batters. Jacob Rhame pitched through the fifth inning allowing no runs, making way for Urias.

Urias scattered three hits over three full innings in his relief appearance, while allowing one walk and striking out three batters. In the end, Omaha was victorious, 10-2. DH Jose Tabata and shortstop Elian Herrera scored the only runs for OKC.

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