Julio Urías— not a teenager no matter what his Twitter handle might say — has made two appearances in the majors this season, and his outing on Sunday opened some eyes.
Urías touched 97 mph on the radar gun with his final pitch. He threw 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes and struck out the side.— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) September 23, 2018
If you were wondering, yes, that will play.
The 96.82 MPH velocity on his fastball was the third-hardest he had ever thrown as a major leaguer. Naturally, folks are clamoring for him to make the postseason roster.
Six weeks ago, I wrote over at Dodgers Digest that the Dodgers shouldn’t count on Urías for significant innings in his comeback from shoulder capsule surgery. Putting him on a potential postseason roster would be doing the exact opposite of that.
Urías’ outing on Sunday came after seven days of rest. Prior to his first MLB outing this season, he had 12 days of rest. Here are the days of rest in between starts in his 10 minor-league outings this season: 3, 5, 4, 5, 5, 3, 2, 2, 2. That’s an average of 3.4 days of rest between outings.
If the Dodgers make the postseason, they’re likely schedule is as follows:
Assuming the Dodgers begin the postseason on Oct. 4, that will be four days since the end of the season. With the entirety of the series being played in the span of six days, that would mean Urías would be good for maybe two outings, and that would mean throwing in Games 1 and 5. That is, if the Dodgers would still adhere to the extended rest period for him.
Essentially, it’d be like having another starting pitcher in the bullpen, but he’d only be available for 1-2 innings at a time (his longest outing this season was 2⅓ innings on Aug. 21 against Lancaster). As talented and healthy as he appears, I’m not sure using a roster spot on a reliever who might throw twice (but more likely once) is the most prudent of decisions.
Both of his major league appearances have literally been zero-leverage situations, with Urias entering up 13 in one game and ahead 14 in the next.
It’s exciting to see Urías throwing hard and missing bats in the majors. But the Dodgers’ bullpen is decent enough that they don’t have to shoehorn Urías onto a potential playoff roster. The team is trying to figure out a way to include him, but it’s getting increasingly more difficult to see that happening.
And honestly, the Dodgers might not even need him in the playoffs. Caleb Ferguson is basically filling this role perfectly. He’s a power lefty out of the bullpen who is capable of throwing multiple innings and doesn’t have any restrictions — workload or health — on him.
It would be awfully nice to utilize Urías out of the bullpen in the postseason, but there are a lot of factors working against him and it happening. The Dodgers have a capable stable of left-handed relief options — Scott Alexander, Ferguson, Zac Rosscup, Alex Wood — as well as Tony Cingrani, who might be a more realistic option than Urias at this point.
If the bullpen were really struggling, it might be different. But there are legitimately 10-12 pitchers ahead of him on the bullpen depth chart right now. Plus, a lot of those guys are accustomed to pitching in short relief multiple times a week. Urías has worked out of the bullpen in the majors and minors, but he has received a majority of his work as a starting pitcher.
This seems like a case of “shiny new toy.” We all know Urías is immensely talented and he might get back to being the guy he was pre-surgery, but for the purposes of his short- and long-term future, missing the postseason — something we were all expecting anyway — might be the best thing for all parties involved.