The good news for the Dodgers is that David Price is approaching the point where he’s stretched out enough to handle six innings in a single outing. The bad news is Julio Urias was placed on the injured list Saturday, prompting the team to perhaps arrange for a ‘bullpen game’ in his next starting slot.
At face value, the injury doesn’t seem like a serious one for Urias, who has already logged a career-high 139-2/3 innings, surpassing his previous high of 79-2/3 in 2019. Urias suffered a bruise on his calf after being hit by a pitch on Friday, but his time on the shelf may end up serving more as a rest period as the team gears up for the stretch run of the regular season.
Still, with Price officially in the starting rotation, the team lacks a true swing man to serve as an effective opener. Mitch White has shown flashes of decency, but his 3.86 ERA, 1.357 WHIP and 4.36 FIP are far from numbers a team chasing a playoff spot can trust.
Neither Clayton Kershaw nor Danny Duffy is healthy enough to join the team, so that means without Urias, the club is back to three healthy starters in Price, Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer, perhaps requiring two bullpen games over the next week.
Coincidentally, Buehler is the only remaining true starting pitcher on the team who has not required time on the injured list this season. Price was on the shelf with a hamstring problem for almost a month earlier in the year, while Scherzer missed 10 days with a groin issue in June.
Something else to consider is that the team has used a whopping 32 pitchers this season, a new franchise record set last month. That total does not include utility man Andy Burns, who pitched one full inning of mop-up duty in a loss to the Rangers on June 12.
Urias joins an injured list crowded with a slew of relief pitchers. Scott Alexander, Garrett Cleavinger, Tony Gonsolin, Victor Gonzalez, Joe Kelly and Darien Nunez are already sitting on the 10-day injured list, while it was recently announced both James Sherfy and Jimmy Nelson would miss the remainder of the year.
Having to employ a bullpen strategy style once every five starts is manageable, but when it’s needed twice a week, the relief crew often becomes overused and tired, something the Dodgers can ill afford with less than 50 games left in the season.