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Julio Urias to miss a month after eye surgery, which could pay off for Dodgers down the stretch

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Julio Urias is expected back mid-June for Double-A Tulsa.
Julio Urias is expected back mid-June for Double-A Tulsa.
Photo: Rich Crimi | Tulsa Drillers

LOS ANGELES -- Top Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias will miss a month for Double-A Tulsa after undergoing an elective surgical procedure on his left eye, but this could have an impact on the major league team down the stretch and possibly in the postseason.

Urias, 18, has had a condition since childhood that has left eye almost completely shut. This procedure is expected to correct that.

The Drillers placed Urias on the disabled list Monday, and say the left-hander is expected back in "about a month," which could actually be a good thing. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com spoke with Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler:

"Obviously, one of our main intentions -- independent of the procedure -- is to protect Julio and limit his workload," said Kapler. "We're mindful of pitch and innings totals for every pitcher in our organization. Our aim is to take a long view approach to Julio's progression with laser sharp focus on long-term health. A blow midseason made sense to us."

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Tuesday that someone in the organization suggested the procedure to Urias in spring training, and the left-hander grew to like the idea.

"It was something Julio was very interested in doing, so we're supporting him," Friedman said. "It's a creative approach. We will build up his innings base. This is a slightly different way to do it, but he'll get to a similar point."

Urias is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA in seven starts so far with Double-A Tulsa, with 46 strikeouts and nine walks in 36 innings. If he misses exactly a month, he would have time to make roughly 15 more starts until Tulsa's season ends on Sept. 7. That would add anywhere from 70-80 innings to his odometer, putting him over 100 innings on the season. Urias pitched 87⅔ innings in 2014.

The Dodgers could potentially add Urias to their bullpen for September and October, sort of like how the Rays used David Price in 2008. Price made his major league debut with a start on Sept. 14, 2008, then pitched in four games in relief in the regular season, then five more games in the playoffs, and was on the mound as the Rays won the American League pennant. Price pitched a total of 19⅔ innings for Tampa Bay in September and October.

Easing off a few minor league starts at the end could give the Dodgers even more rope with Urias in the big leagues.

If they so choose, that is.

Friedman would not say whether Urias is more likely to join the Dodgers in September now that the left-hander is getting a month off.

"The objective for us is doing what's right be Julio, and that means building his inning base," Friedman explained. "Just like everyone else, in middle to late August we'll assess where everyone in the organization and what makes the most sense at that point."

This midseason break just makes that opportunity much more likely, at least as an option to consider.