Every time the Dodgers say they will move Julio Urias to the bullpen, he pulls them back in. The 20-year-old left-hander will start the series finale for the Dodgers on Thursday against the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego, manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday at Petco Park.
This move fits conveniently just before the playoffs, when the Dodgers will most likely need a Game 4 starter.
Urias last started on Sept. 13 against the Yankees in New York, and his trip to the bullpen saw him pitch in just one game in the last two weeks, throwing two innings against the Yankees last Wednesday.
The concern with Urias is his workload, especially at such a young age. After throwing 80⅓ innings in the minors in 2015, he is already at 119 innings between the majors and minors this year. The Dodgers have mentioned at multiple times that they have a limit for Urias in 2016, but what that exact limit is has never been publicly revealed, and wisely so.
Urias has pitched 11 innings in September.
On performance, Urias would be absolutely deserving of a playoff spot, posting a 3.53 ERA and 3.22 FIP in his first 74 major league innings, with 79 strikeouts and 29 walks. In his last five starts he has allowed six runs (four earned), putting up a 1.38 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 innings.
Roberts also confirmed the starters for the weekend in San Francisco, with Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda starting the final three games of the regular season, which explains the earlier move of Maeda from Wednesday to Tuesday, with Jose De Leon starting Wednesday.
Roberts said Maeda preferred to make two starts before playoffs to stay sharp, so he was moved to tonight.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 28, 2016
Kenta Maeda will earn a $1.5 million bonus by making 32 starts this year (tonight and Sunday). Dave Roberts said he was happy for Maeda.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 28, 2016
Having Hill start before Kershaw is a little curious, though with four off days in between the regular season and NLDS there is plenty of time to configure the order for the playoffs however the Dodgers want it.
UPDATE: In fact, the order for the NLDS has been set, at least for the first three games, with Urias an option for Game 4.
Kershaw, Hill and Maeda start first three playoff games, Roberts said.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 28, 2016
Dave Roberts said Julio Urias starting a game in postseason is "Still on the table" #Dodgers— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) September 28, 2016
Julio Urias will be in the mix to pitch in both the NLCS and the World Series.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 28, 2016
(If the Dodgers get there)
Urias back in rotation because of light use in September.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 28, 2016