PHOENIX — The Dodgers plan to use Julio Urias as a starting pitcher in camp, building up his arm strength in preparation for the regular season just like the other 10 starters on the 40-man roster. They also know at one point his innings will be artificially limited, to avoid overtaxing his 20-year-old left-handed arm.
But when such a break will happen is yet to be determined.
"There's no question he's going to help us win a lot of games this year. He's not to the point in his development where he's going to make 32-33 starts, throw 200+ innings,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Wednesday. “So exactly how we manage that and when is what we spent some time talking about this winter. We'll continue to talk about it throughout the spring. We don't know exactly, but it's something that's front of mind.”
One school of thought is to have Urias remain at Camelback Ranch for extended spring training, with several other veterans starting the season in the rotation if healthy. That last part is a huge variable, of course, and there is still plenty of time between now and opening day to let this play itself out.
"We have a lot of guys in camp,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We still have six weeks to make a decision.”
The Dodgers have understandably high hopes for Urias, who posted a 3.39 ERA and 3.17 FIP in 77 innings, with 84 strikeouts and 31 walks in his age-19 season. He threw 138 innings including the minors and the postseason in 2016, and Friedman was vague in describing the limits the team has for Urias this season.
"We don't have a set number [of innings]. It's so individualized,” Freidman said. “I feel confident in saying jumping up to 200+ innings and being strong in October is not viable for 2017.”
Urias is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session of camp on Friday.