How Will Dodgers Handle Julio Urias at Beginning of 2019 Season?


There’s been quite a bit of speculation about the way the Dodgers might handle lefty Julio Urias to begin the 2019 season. I wrote a story about three weeks ago exploring two possible scenarios, but those viewpoints have seemingly changed since the news broke about fellow southpaw Tony Cingrani opening the year on the injured list.

In her column yesterday, Andy wrote about keeping Urias stashed away at Triple-A Oklahoma City, and when considering the greater scope of things, I think I concur with her thoughts. However, if Clayton Kershaw falls victim to the injured list to start the season, it opens the door for even more possibilities for Urias to begin the year in the starting rotation.

Last Friday, Bill Plunkett of the OC Register spoke with Urias about beginning the year in the big league bullpen. By the tone of his response, the young lefty sounded as if it would be a disappointment for him to be a member of the relief corps.

“You don’t want it to be that way,” Urias explained. “You don’t want to make the team that way. You want to do your job and show you’re ready. But I do have that experience (bullpen) from the playoffs and World Series last year.”

One day later, skipper Dave Roberts told Jorge Castillo from The Los Angeles Times that he believes Urias “will be able to pitch on back-to-back days out of the bullpen this season, and that he’s going to get stretched out to four innings before Opening Day.”

Along the lines of Andy’s story, one train of thought is that the club will use Urias sparingly in the early portion of the year, saving the bulk of his workload for the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs. In this light, some have theorized the team will have him join the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City to start the year; however, if he’s on a specified innings limit, it doesn’t make much sense wasting those innings in the minors, especially if his stuff is as good as everyone says.

Maybe the best possible scenario would to have him relieve once a week or so in the minors, in order for him to stick to a specific schedule. In the majors, relievers continuously log pitches even when they don’t appear in a game—their counts often depend on how many times they’re actually called upon to get loose. Some relievers who have logged as few as 50 appearances or 50 innings during the regular season are sometimes spent by the time the playoffs roll around.

At least at Oklahoma City, Urias will be able to be carefully controlled in his usage.

Personally, I can see it playing out similarly to the way teammate Walker Buehler was utilized last year. Everyone knew that Buehler had a limit heading into the 2018 season, but nobody knew the specifics. As it turned out, Buehler threw 153-1/3 frames between the majors and the minors. He wasn’t called up to the bigs until late April, eventually staying in the rotation to make nine consecutive turns. Fans will remember him getting stung by a Trevor Story comebacker which led to a microfracture in his ribs, causing him to miss three weeks of action. Those three weeks fit perfectly into a rest period, and his innings log fell right near the 150-frame target that was set for him all along.

Consequently, it would be interesting to know if management has an exact number in mind when it comes to the number of innings planned for Urias this season.

In the meantime, Roberts says that Urias will continue to take his turn in the Cactus League rotation every fifth day. If innings and mileage are indeed the main concern, then why use up those said innings during insignificant Cactus League games?

Maybe the best bet is to have Caleb Ferguson take Cingrani’s spot as the second lefty reliever behind Scott Alexander, but that scenario could change if Kershaw opens the season on the injured list.

With less than 10 days remaining before the season opener, some hints should be revealed by management very soon.


36 thoughts on “How Will Dodgers Handle Julio Urias at Beginning of 2019 Season?

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Julio Urias is a Major League pitcher. Having him throw against minor league hitters is a waste of his talent.

  2. But the problem is that Urias basically hasn’t pitched for two years so I read earlier that his max innings may be 100. I think the bullpen is too taxing warming up all the time. If you want him to pitch in the playoffs that leaves about 90 innings for regular season which is 3 starts a month for 5 innings. That’s not gonna work at the big league level. It’s a tough one to figure out!

    1. He’s going to be pitching on a regular basis no matter where he is Rich. Warming up is a daily activity for all players. If his limit is 100 innings, and I don’t know it is but if I was making this call it would be less about innings and more about pitch count, then let him get Major League hitters out a few days a week.

      I don’t find it that tough to figure out. He looks as ready as any pitcher on this staff. That of course could change any day, but it hasn’t yet.

  3. Hey guys, I made it out to California. Drove straight through and got here in 18 1/2 hours. Just in time to catch Vassegh’s Dodger talk on the radio. Big news was CK and Buehler ruled out for opening day. Buehler is pitching tonight against the Tribe. 3 innings or 45 pitches. CK will open the season on the IL. Eating crow on that one. Has not been decided who will take Cingrani’s role in the pen, but it looks like they are leaning towards Ferguson. Report yesterday was that Urias will probably not throw more than 110 innings this year. Makes sense since all of last year he threw about 30. Other news is that Corey Seager WILL be the opening day SS and Kike has pretty much locked down the starting 2B job. Seager starts his first game tomorrow. Schultz sent to the minors. But the biggest news in MLB is Trout signing a 12 year deal with the Angels for 430 Simoleans’ WOW….

    1. That Trout signing is huge for the Angels. Instead of waiting for the guillotine to drop when Trout signed with Philadelphia they now have a future to look forward to with Trout, Ohtani and a top 10 prospect in Jo Adell. If they go out and get some pitching they will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
      By the way are Michael N. Norris and Bear one and the same person?

      1. Yes I R the same person…I am on my laptop and the system is different from my desk top setup….Is it not weird that two of the Angels best players are named after fish? Trout and Salmon?

  4. Consider Kershaw out to pasture already. Is he forfeiting his pay will on the DL? Hell no! Urias needs to be utilized with or without the Dodgers–just like Puig; just like Toles, etc. The Dodger Organization is a heartless biz now and if they want to use somebody, use Kershaw and put him out to pasture with the rest of the cows.

  5. Your being pretty harsh on someone who had a 2.73 ERA, and a 1.04 whip. I’m sure there are about 29 other teams would take that, rather than put him out to pasture.

  6. He’s not out to pasture yet but I think the handwriting on the wall is in bold script. He’s just not the player he was in his 20’s (who is?) and if he’s to come close to earning his money it’s going to be done in Rich Hill fashion – 130 innings of 2+ WAR. If the organization is careful with him he can still get 20+ starts a year for 3 years.

    This is why I’ve been soliciting 6 man rotation. Ryu, Kershaw, Maeda, Hill ….. are ANY of those guys good for 30 starts? Hell no. But all of them could be good for 25 if given an extra day’s rest.

    One should look at how Japan runs their league. They know what they’re doing over there. They are WAY ahead of MLB when it comes to progressive thinking.

  7. So let me get this straight Steve. The Dodgers are heartless because they want to protect a young pitcher and limit his innings. Bet you sure miss the good old days when Fox and then McCourt owned the Dodgers!

    1. Every team in the Majors is an integral spoke of a multi billion dollar wheel. They are corporations. They have no heart. The players are commodities. Kershaw is a corporate owned commodity. The Dodgers are obligated to pay $93 million over 3 years to own that commodity. Make no mistake, the entire front office cares only about the investment – the Dodgers organization. If that investment loses money, they all get canned.

      It’s not that difficult to see what they need to do here. Cost per WAR is going up every year. Stars are getting cyclopean money. Kershaw is a star. At the least the legend is, even if the production isn’t. The algorithms are causing a humming on Dodger front office computers and they know exactly what is needed. They need to see that he is on the field for X amount of days/innings every year for 3 years. I figure Kershaw will need to put up close to 9 WAR for the team to break even. They may have a different number. The only way to do that is to consciously, strategically, reduce his innings. 20 starts, 110 quality innings and he can match or nearly match what Hill did ‘16. (110 innings of 3.8 WAR). It’s possible. Maybe not likely – but possible.

      And in addition to this, they need to continue getting wins from latent sources. They’ve been most fortunate on this front since they’ve been there. Every year there has been a Bellinger, Muncy, Morrow, Taylor. They need to keep that string going.

      It’s possible Kershaw is done. I don’t think so, but it’s possible. For now, don’t push it.

  8. Wow Scoop! What a take! So,all sport ownership groups are heartless. Does that include all business owners? Who,are they heartless to? The players, the fans.I wish my boss was as heartless as Arte Moreno was today!

    1. Be careful what you wish for Rich. And we shall see (like the blind man said) what Kershaw accomplishes this year. I am sure we shall see very early too. And yes, businesses are in biz to MAKE $$ and produce results–not play Santa Claus. It’s the hiway to heaven or the hiway to hell.

    2. When it comes to business decisions corporations are indeed heartless. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary corporations are not people, they are monolithic abusers of tax codes and the environment who own lawmakers and abuse human rights. Our front office people might actually like their family members…. if they toe the line… but they only love players when they’re playing.

      Arte Moreno? You think he did that because he’s a nice guy ? What planet do you live on? That was a business decision pure and simple. Moreno is in advertising and he’s a Republican, proof positive he doesn’t care about civil liberties. He also dissed Anaheim. Los Angeles Angels my ass. Trout seems like a nice guy though. Too bad he isn’t a Dodger, but I think the Angels will never win a championship with him on the team. He’s going to be 30 in a couple of years. The numbers will fall off a cliff after that.

      Man there is a lot of money in baseball. Why? Fans are suckers. FCI keeps going up. I just read in ‘18 the average crap beer cost $8 at football games, $6 at baseball games. $6 for hot dog. You know what’s in those disgusting things? Parking average is $15. FCI for the Dodgers was up 8.4% to $230.64, which sounds like a bargain come to the Cubs $368.38. Average premium seat for a Yankees game is $350. Damm. Fans are easy marks. Baseball habitués are gullible muttonhead butt chump stooges. Not me. I’m out.

      Final standings: Dodgers still projected to win 93. Turner and Seager 5 WAR players, nobody else comes close. Kershaw projects at 3.2 WAR. Hope so. I doubt it.

      93 wins sounds about right. The NL West might have 4 teams under .500. Rockies projected at .500. We should roll that Division and have it wrapped up by Elephant Appreciation Day.

  9. I love the game. I always have. But at this point in my life MLB has priced itself right out of my budget, and that includes streaming the games on MLB’s network. On paper the 119 or so a year for all the games in my area, save the games with the Rockies which are blacked out is a bargain. But on a set income it is an expense that I just simply cannot afford anymore. So I will have to follow them on my computer. I can see the games while I am here in Cali because my sis gets them on her cable system. 5 of us went to Dodger Stadium last year on the 4th of July against the Pirates. Those 5 seats and parking cost 340.00. That’s not counting the food that was bought. And those were reserved seats on the 3rd level. Conversely we went to a Quakes game in Rancho, sat in the 3rd row behind home plate and it cost 65 bucks for 5 seats and it was just as entertaining if not more so. It is a huge cash cow for the Dodger owners. Team cleared almost 500 mil in profits last year. You might not like it, but they pretty much care less what the average fan wants them to do or thinks they should do. They have raised the prices at the stadium almost every year they have been here. Parking is outrageous. I am not sure, but I think part of that sale was McCrappy retaining some of his rights to parking.

    1. I hope that anyone who lives here in town and hasn’t taken in a Quakes game yet finds the time to do so this season. As Bear points out, the price can’t be beat and you get to see the young guys before they hit the big time. It’s always a great evening.

  10. You’re right bear McCourt does have on ownership interest in the parking. That’s the toughest thing to pay for knowing it lines his pockets! I’m blacked out in my area and I follow them on Mlb gameday on my I pad also. And when I go to a game I have my beer before the game and bring my own food and take my seat in the top deck. But it’s still a good deal when compared to Laker or Ram games! But point well taken the average fan is getting priced out of the major sports experience! And as a Dodger fan can’t even watch them on tv!

    1. Nothing wrong with the top deck Rich. Sure it’s nice to sit in a dugout box if you’re lucky enough to be invited but I’ve spent a lot of time in the top deck, starting when I got my first driver’s license and my friends and I used to hang out there about 20 times a year. Then I taught my son about the game of baseball up there and he still loves to see the game from the heights. And you are oh so correct when you say that it’s still a bargain compared to a Laker or Ram game. Seats in Baltimore and KC are probably much less expensive but I’m not sure the trade off is worth it.

      1. Yeah, it’s cheaper in some cities, but it’s no bargain:

        Scroll down for cost comparison’s at every ballpark.

        As much as I’ve enjoyed it over the years, I’m just not that interested anymore. The Smirk and a player that ignores working on defense get paid about $70,000 per at bat? Ef that.

  11. So us Brad Miller going to make the team or what? I’m trying to think about who they would leave out for him.

    1. If they go with a seven-man bullpen and Stripling as one of the five starters, I think Miller makes it. If Strip is a starter and they carry another eight relievers, I don’t see any room for Miller.

  12. I just think he’s a luxury we can’t have since Taylor and Kike are similar type guys. No way they don’t carry 8 relievers.

  13. I expect to see Miller on the opening day roster. Friedman is a big fan and wants him on the team. That would mean one of the following: Seager not activated for the first 7-10 days of the season (in spite of what Roberts has said), Muncy on the IL to begin the season (wrist issues can be tricky), CT3 optioned to get his head on straight and work on his hitting or Joc traded (my choice – I would give Verdugo the job and let him have 1/2 a season to lose it). I don’t see any way they don’t carry 13 pitchers for the entire season. Our starters (with the exception of Buehler) simply don’t go more than 5-6 innings on a regular basis, even after the first month of the season.

  14. Hey you guys, about McCourt, and the parking lot. McCourt still retains some ownership in the parking lot, but gets no money from his part of ownership, he only gets money if the land gets redeveloped, if the dodgers move downtown, and they put a mall and a few thousand condos at Chavez ravine he gets a share, if the dodgers never move he gets squat.
    As much as I hate his time here, you have to admire what he pulled off. He traded a parking lot in Boston for 2 billion dollars, and still has a small chance to make hundreds of millions more, if they ever move. Dumb like a fox.

    1. Interesting info Jefe. I didn’t know that. I knew he was, and still is a greaseball. He and his wife were an embarrassment to all Dodger fans. But he is living the American dream. From parking lot owner, to bankruptcy, to billionaire. Maybe he runs for President next. 45% of the country would vote for him.

      I think they can trade Taylor. With Miller on board he’s not needed.

      1. Sure Scoop. Give me credit and then take it away.
        Taylor is definitely a superior fielder to Miller but that might not make any difference at this point.
        Miller can play all the positions that Muncy plays.
        Seager is finally playing in a game tonight but that doesn’t mean he’ll be ready on opening day.
        Joc and Verdugo seem a bit redundant although they definitely bring different skills to the plate.

  15. What the heck scoop I finally have something intelligent to contribute, and you give Jeff the credit.😀
    I think Miller is just an insurance policy Incase Taylor struggles.

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