Julio Urias didn't exactly go out on a high note with his start Monday, but his initial six weeks or so in the majors were a huge success, with the left-hander filling a void at a pivotal time during the Dodgers' season.
Urias allowed five runs in 3⅓ innings against the Orioles on Monday, his shortest outing since his major league debut on May 27, and with the returns this week of Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, the rotation is no longer in as dire need as it was a month ago.
"We haven't decided yet, but we'll probably send him out," manager Dave Roberts said after the game, as seen on SportsNet LA. "We haven't decided on the corresponding move yet."
The Dodgers will need to make a move to add Ryu to the active roster on Thursday (also, to add him back to the 40-man roster, too) but could carry an extra player for two games should they option Urias before Tuesday's game.
In his first eight starts, Urias has a 4.95 ERA while averaging just 4.54 innings per start, but also struck out 44 with 17 walks in 36⅓ innings. The 19-year-old owns a 27.3-percent major league strikeout rate, a mark that ranks 57th among the 283 pitchers with at least 30 innings this season.
But Urias thrived in a five-start stretch in June, when the Dodgers were without Alex Wood, and still waiting on McCarthy and Ryu. Urias had a 2.49 ERA from June 7-28, with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in 25⅓ innings. The Dodgers won four of those five starts, and won five of his eight major league starts to date.
He seemed at peace with the decision to go back down to the minors.
"The decision is one I have to face, but I'm happy to go work and come back," Urias said, through an interpreter after the game.
The question is, just what will Urias do in the minors? He is already at 77⅓ total innings in 2016, just three shy of his 2016 total. The Dodgers have been tight-lipped about their actual limit for Urias, but the only thing is certain is that he won't continue to start for the rest of the season, whether in the minors or majors.
So whether Urias takes a break now like Ross Stripling did in June, conditioning at Camelback Ranch, or if he transitions to the bullpen on the farm so he can potentially rejoin the Dodgers in relief in September and October, that remains to be seen.
For now, the Dodgers could sure use some help in the bullpen if they are bringing up an extra player in place of Urias. The Dodgers bullpen has thrown 28⅔ innings over the last eight days, no fewer than three innings in any one game. That includes 5⅔ innings on Monday, allowing only two hits.
The most likely candidate on the 40-man roster seems to be Carlos Frias, who threw 27 pitches in 1⅔ innings in relief on Sunday. Mike Bolsinger is now in the bullpen in Triple-A Oklahoma City, but he pitched three innings on Monday, taking him out of commission for the next few days.
Luis Avilan is also on the 40-man roster, and last pitched on Friday.