What Can Dodgers Expect from Julio Urías in 2020?

urias
(Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

It’s a little hard to believe, but when looking at the Dodgers‘ prospective 2020 starting rotation compared to last year’s version, there are indeed quite a few glaring differences.

Gone are Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. Although the veteran Hill made just 13 regular-season starts for the Dodgers in 2019, Ryu and Maeda combined for a whopping 55. Ryu made 29 by himself, the most he tallied since his rookie year back in 2013.

Enter David Price and Alex Wood. Price has been inconsistent in stringing together consecutive years of 25+ starts and hasn’t registered a sub-3.30 ERA since the 2015 season. Wood logged 27 starts for the Dodgers in 2018, but was basically on the shelf for the entirety of the 2019 season hampered by back problems in Cincinnati.

Also new to the 2020 rotation is 23-year-old lefty Julio Urias. Obviously, he’s no stranger to the Dodgers nor is he foreign to the Los Angeles rotation, but he still hasn’t started semi-regularly for Los Angeles since he started 15 games as a 19-year-old rookie back in 2016.

Barring injury or any unforeseen circumstances, the management crew of the Dodgers has already named Urías a member of the 2020 rotation, conceivably setting up a starting five that features four left-handers. There will for certain be some type of innings limit imposed on the native of Mexico, as he has never eclipsed more than 79-2/3 innings in the bigs, which happened to be his total last year.

Between Triple-A and the majors in 2016, Urías threw an even 122 innings, his most in a single year as a professional. In June of 2017, the young lefty underwent season-ending UCL surgery, which kept him out of MLB action until the tail-end of the following year.

As far as projections for the upcoming season go, Steamer has Urías making 23 starts over 28 appearances, tallying a 3.96 ERA, a 4.23 FIP and a 1.9 fWAR over 124 innings of work. According to the math, that’s just shy of 4-1/2 innings per outing, which might be a reasonable guess based on the extra five relief appearances.

The WAR prediction, though, might be a bit modest. The starting crew of the Dodgers perennially has stellar fWAR numbers, and 2019 was no exception. Walker Buehler led the way last year with an impressive 5.0 fWAR, followed by Ryu at 4.8, Clayton Kershaw at 3.4 and Maeda at 2.5. In his role as a swing man last season, Ross Stripling put up a 1.9 fWAR over 32 appearances and 90-2/3 innings—the exact fWAR Urías is projected to hit in 2020.

Pitching mainly in relief in 2019, Urías posted a modest 1.4 fWAR alongside a 2.49 ERA over 37 appearances.

With Stripling, Jimmy Nelson, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin—in addition to a handful of capable farmhands—available to make big league starts as needed, there really isn’t any pressure for Urías to make a set number of starts in the first half of the season, especially if he wants to find himself peaking by the time the playoffs roll around in October.

Nevertheless, skipper Dave Roberts remains cautiously optimistic for a successful season.

“The conversations we’ve had with Julio have been just more of encouraging,” Roberts recently told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “He understands what’s in front of him. He’s got to continue to stay healthy, take care of his body. Last year was very difficult on a lot of fronts. The inconsistency of role I think was hard for Julio. We take for granted his buy-in sometimes. But now things will be more regimented as a starter. So with that, with the way he looks physically, to sustain that, I think he’s gonna have a really nice year.”

Urías made his first Cactus League appearance of the year against the Reds on Monday, officially completing two-thirds of an inning while surrendering one hit, a walk and two runs—none of which were earned.

He made 10 pitches and struck out one Cincinnati batter.

 

35 thoughts on “What Can Dodgers Expect from Julio Urías in 2020?

  1. 22 starts, 120 innings. Got that straight from from my reliable source, which is the voice in my head. It’s batting .333 by the way.

    I really believe we have the depth of pitching to not have to tax anyone and enough offense to score enough to make winners of young guys with 4+ ERA’s. Load management on the old guys, important experience for the young guys. This is going to be 40 guys pulling on the same end of the rope.

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    1. Everything I’ve read up to now has said no innings limit this year for Julio. Suddenly there is ” . . . for certain some type of innings limit . . .”? Where did that come from?

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  2. Lash me to the stake, but I am not entirely sold on Julio as a starter. Based on what I have seen, stamina is going to be an issue. And another thing, I am not sold on his concentration either. He obviously has some great tools. I just do not think he at this point has the mental make up of a successful starting pitcher. That is my humble opinion by the way. I am an eye test person. I will believe it when I see him actually be consistent and effective.

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    1. I don’t know a heckuva lot about MLB pitching, but sometimes what frustrates me with Urias is how he constantly tries to nibble the outer edges of the zone, resulting frequently in some very untimely walks. I realize that today’s MLB pitchers cannot throw cantaloupes over the dead-center of the dish, but I sorta hope that Urias can learn how to trust his stuff and attack opposing hitters more often rather than the constant nibbling.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. OK I’ll lash you to the stake. I agree with Rich.
      Did you ever play baseball? I was a catcher from 8-25 I think putting especially a pitcher in a defined role be it relief or starting will put him in a position to flourish or fail.I believe Urias will flourish
      So being you insist that AJ Pollock is a good ball player and Urias in a negative way makes me feel you don’t have a clue

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah Bud I played ball, a lot of it. I also have watched the game, a lot. Over the last few year I have had MLB TV and watched almost every game. I have seen Urias pitch a lot of times. I understand his being put in a position as a starter because that is what he was from the get go. They have been protecting his arm, and limiting his innings. I get that. But what I have seen is a guy who can be cruising for a couple of innings and then wham. It looks like he loses his concentration. I saw the same thing with Maeda more than once. Maeda out of the pen was aggressive. Maeda as a starter always had a timid side and nibbled the plate a lot more. Urias has never pitched more than 80 innings in any season. You are telling me that the kid is ready to make 30 starts as the # 4 option? Sorry, I do not buy it. Maybe he does, maybe he blossoms like everybody has predicted. But until he actually does it, I am not buying it. And Pollock is a GOOD baseball player. He has proved it over 8 years in the majors. He has one problem. He has been injury prone. But when healthy, he has been very good. And he had a stretch last year where he was their best hitter. So until YOU hit .279 over an 8 year career, you are in no place to judge what kind of player he is., I wasn’t judging Urias negatively, I was simply pointing out what I think are his shortcomings. You believe he will be fine, great. I disagree. If you are right I will give you kudos. But don’t ever think I do not know anything about this game. I will match my historical knowledge against anyone on here. Including you….I caught, played first, the outfield and pitched in all the years I played. Coached a little too.

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      2. Oh yeah, personally Larry, don’t give one hoot in hell whether you agree with me about Urias or not. Your opinion is just that, nothing more. Same as me. Not based on any stats at all. Players have to pass my eye test. I have to see them do these things people hope they will do. Until that time, it is all just hot air.

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  3. I think the consistency of starting every 5 days will help Julio refine his approach to pitching. He certainly hasn’t turned into the phenom we were all waiting for, but there is still time for that. He says he’ll do whatever is asked of him (start or relieve) but I think a single role will be of major help to him. I just hope they stick to that instead of moving him back and forth.

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  4. I predict awesomeness for Urias. It may take a while to get locked in this year but by next year he will be our co ace with Buehler. You make a great point about Urias trusting his stuff Dennis because it’s great stuff. And when he does he will flourish!

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  5. I agree with those who believe Urias, with a defined role and steady work, will find the edges. He’s 23 now, should be healed, put up 79.2 innings last year. I see no reason he can’t throw 120 innings this year.

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    1. And in today’s game 120 is good I guess. I just don’t see him going more than 5 for quite a while and I dislike pitching staffs that put a strain on the pen, especially Dodger pitching staffs.

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  6. OK bear watch Pollock fail and Urias do well 30 starts well how many pitchers start 30 these days.
    I predict 12-14 wins 3.13 era. Pollock is released before the end of the season. Tune in

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well that shows right there how well versed you are in baseball Larry. No way Pollock gets released. Not with the contract he has. I think Urias might win 10 if he is lucky. Pollock is a pro dude, he has proved it over an over and if anyone is a negative Nelly here it is you. You had better go back and take baseball 101. You are right about 1 thing. Very few pitchers start 30 games anymore. Kersh has not done that in years. Last time was 2015. But he came close last year with 29, and I think Ryu did the same. And he only started 30 his rookie year. But in my eyes, unless a starter in today’s game can go at least 6 innings, he is putting a strain on the pitching staff. And Urias, in my memory has gone 6 very few times. As a Dodger fan, I hope I am wrong. I would like nothing better than to see the kid in the 12-16 win range every year. I just at this point in his career do not see that happening. Also, Pollock has 2 guaranteed years after this season with 31 million owed. This team does not release players owed that much money. They might try to do a salary dump, but not until the off season. So do not hold your breath. I would hate to see you turn blue.

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  7. I don’t think Urias is ever going to be the #1 ace type pitcher we all were hoping for but I also think he’s going to be a very good middle of the rotation guy. I think he’s always going to fight with his control a bit which will keep him from being a star but his stuff alone will make him a 12-14 win 3.50 ERA type guy that strikes a lot of guys out.

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  8. I hope you’re wrong about pollock, Larry. If he does well it makes the dodgers that much tougher, if he doesn’t play good I doubt they would eat his contract. He will get a chance to work it out for another season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The voice of reason there Keith. Like I said, 2 years 31 million more after this season. No way they eat that contract. Another thing, I do not care how he is playing this spring. Nobody on the team is tearing it up. Betts is under ,200, Smith, Seager, Beatty, Rios, Pollock, all under .200 Turner and Belli are the only regulars hitting over 200. Muncy in the .280’s. Turner hit his first HR of spring tonight. Kersh pitched 3 innings, no runs, 2 hits and 4 K’s.

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  9. Dodger pitchers having a good night. No runs through 8 innings. Giant bench was barking at Kershaw who started to go over there and was stopped by the umpire. Peters made a nice sliding catch to end an inning., C. Santana gets 2 hits as Turner’s caddy.

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  10. Actually here is what happened. Cueto hit Turner in the hand with a pitch in the first. Just a bruise so not a problem. Turner hit a 2 run jack off of Cueto in the 3rd inning. In the top of the 3rd, Kersh plunked Brantly in his pocket as sort of retaliation. Considering the fact that in 2018 Turner was hit in spring, broke his hand and was out 8 weeks. Kersh was just protecting his player. As the inning ended, Giant 3rd base coach Ron Wotus passed in front of Kersh and said something. Kersh started to go after him and the ump intercepted him and then warned the dugouts. Ahhhh spring, Dodger-Giant baseball and it has started already. And the mad bum..he no longer rates capitol letters, is not even a Giant.

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  11. I think it’s a good sign that Urias came into spring looking much fitter. He has four quality pitches and I think with a more consistent schedule he will develop more confidence. With that I think he’ll begin to trust his stuff and improve his command which has to happen if he’s going to get to Buehler’s level!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand that Rich, and to a point I agree. But over the years I have seen some pretty good pitchers never really reach the heights expected of them. Urias is basically a kid. He did come to camp with the right attitude, and he does have good stuff. Now, maybe he learns to quit nibbling the corners so much and attack hitters, and maybe he never gets that. Only time will tell. They have placed a lot of trust and responsibility in the kids lap. I hope he can handle it. But no one here, not me, Scoop, Jefe, Larry. Dennis or anyone else can say with a certainty that he is going to be good at it. Having the skills, and using them are 2 entirely different things. It took Koufax 6 years and a reserve catcher telling him to just play catch before that happened. There is just something about Urias to me that does not inspire confidence. I have more confidence in Stripling than I do Urias. I sincerely hope I am totally wrong. I also am not a huge fan of a starting rotation with 4 lefty’s in it.

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      1. There’s something about Urias, that’s for sure. He’s been a top mlb prospect for good reason. This year fangraphs and the 5 projection sites that show up there tell me they all believe he’s ready to take a step forward. Not all the way forward yet, but 130 innings of 3.6 ERA or better is pretty good following Buehler, Kershaw and Price.

        I think as far as Pollock being released later this season Larry is right in this respect – there’s a strong possibility Pollock will be released – from a rehab facility after recovering from his latest owie. I watched him play almost everyday when he was in Arizona. Hey, I was in Arizona, the dbacks were on tv everyday. I saw him several times in person. Granted this was 5 years ago, but he stole 39 bases and played Gold Glove centerfield. The guy was fun to watch. He’s 32 now, and for the first time in his career will make 8 figures. If he can put up 400 at bats I believe he can earn that money. Going forward, in one of the more curious Friedman contracts, I don’t know how he will play through his age 35 year. With a $5 million buyout that year he’s owed another $51 million. We have what looks like replacement players at the ready but Friedman really likes this guy so I’m going to exercise my noetic powers and send positive thoughts his way.

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      2. The contract was a surprise, but considering they got shut out on Harper, AF probably felt he had to do something. The biggest contract I can remember them just eating was Andruw Jones, who signed for 3 years at 35 million. He was released after a year, and they still had to pay him 21 million dollars. Probably the worst free agent signing for LA ever. Ended up hitting .158 in 75 games. The next biggest would be Carl Crawford, he was owed about 29 million when they cut him, so actually it would be the most. He had 1 1/2 years left on the deal he signed in Boston when he was cut in June of 2016.

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      3. Yeah, Crawford faded fast. The reality that can happen after 30. The Dodgers have had some begonia contracts over the years. Dreifort, Tomko, Kevin Brown, Pierre, Jason Schmidt. Even Kemp’s $160 million was ill advised. 1 great year, several mediocre. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

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      4. The only thing about Kemp’s contract is that his production was affected for the better part of 2 years. Once he ran into the wall at Coors field, he was never the same player again. Especially defensively. He had some productive years, but not by the standard he set in 2011. He was tearing the league up when he ran into the wall chasing that fly ball. In retrospect, he probably wishes he would have just played it off the wall. He was hitting .355 before he got hurt, he hit .280 afterwards, then had surgery that ruined his 2013 season. Made a decent comeback in 2014, but the charge that he was a clubhouse cancer got him traded. Other than 2019 when he hit .290 for the Dodgers, his average has floated between .265 and .280. He did drive in over 100 runs twice after leaving LA. I do not know that you can all a 20 plus homer 100 RBI year mediocre. That is well above the MLB average.

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  12. I just don’t see how Pollock gets 400 ab’s platooning with JOC in left field. It’s not like Betts and Belly need much time off in right and center. And there’s playing time for Taylor and Kike in the outfield to consider as well

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    1. AJ only played in 86 games last year and managed to get 342 plate appearances. He is projected to get 417 this year with 375 at bats. More than doable with the way the Dodgers move their lineups around. Joc isn’t even playing yet, so his availability right now is questionable. Kike and Taylor are going to play all over the place. I think Roberts pretty much knows who is going to play where and how much. They have made it work the last few years. So I am not worried about AJ not getting playing time. Those projections take into consideration him platooning with Pederson.

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      1. That’s one of the issues with so much depth, there are x number of plate appearances for every spot in the order. Batting 5-6 in the order is roughly 680 plate appearances over 162 games. On good teams that get on a lot maybe we can stretch that to 700. Right handers are 60% of the league, so that’s 420 to Joc/Reks/Raley and 380 to Pollock/Thomas/ whoever. Pinch hitting now and then Bellinger/Betts a few innings off now and then, Pollock should get close to his projections of 370-400. That’s plenty of opportunity to earn his $15 million. He will need to get back his positive dWAR though. A -1.0 last year really hurt. I recommend ROMWOD recovery Yoga. And lots of running. I’ve not been doing it for years now and it’s really beginning to show.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So far he has not had any issues. Just getting his timing down. They all look rusty except Turner. He is hitting pretty well.

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  13. I think Reks, Raley, Thomas, and Peters will all be at AAA come opening day. Even if Joc is not up to full speed, AJ actually hit more HR’s off of righty’s last year, but he also struck out more against them . His career splits against RHP and left are pretty close. More HR’s off of RHP. The average is .279 against RHP, and .281 against LHP. He walks a lot more vs RHP< and also K's more. But his OBP vs righty's is a little higher. The one guy who could sneak in is maybe McKinstry if Beaty continues to have a rough spring.

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    1. Pollock walks and strikes out more against RHP because he’s had about 70% of his at bats against righties throughout his career. On stats calculated cumulatively he’s done more against righties because he’s faced them more. On stats calculated by average (BA, OBP, etc.) there is very little difference right vs left. He seems to have slightly more power against lefties but overall he’s one guy that probably doesn’t need to be platooned. If you dislike him enough to want to remove him from the roster that’s an entirely different question, but with regard to platooning he’s the exact opposite of Joc who can only be used against righties. AJ can be used against any handed pitcher (or not at all, depending upon your point of view).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The way I look at left field is simply we have one platoon player and it’s Joc. I thought we solved that platoon business when we traded him.

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