There are a lot of questions as we head into the 2019 season. The health of Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw is probably the most popular at the moment. Another is the battle between Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson for the final outfield spot.
However, the biggest story line for the upcoming season might just be what the Dodgers plan on doing with Julio Urías.
Heading into the season, it looks as if the Dodgers have their five-man rotation set. Kershaw, Buehler, Hill, Ryu and Maeda. With Kershaw and Buehler as question marks heading into the season, an open spot in the rotation appears up for grabs should a player start on the DL.
Roberts has already stated that if that were the case, Ross Stripling would fill in for the meantime.
With a starting rotation completely packed, what will happen with the 22-year-old?
Urías is far too talented to be sent back to Oklahoma City. Though, if the Dodgers want him to build up innings as a starter, that would make the most sense.
Last season, though in a limited amount of innings, Urías was used as a reliever. He appeared in three games, allowing no runs, as well as striking out seven in four innings of work.
He saw more action in the postseason, appearing in seven games. In 6 1⁄3 innings, Urías struck out five and allowed two runs. Hitters went 4-for-24 against him.
There’s no question that Urías has a lot of value coming out of the bullpen. In his short time there, he’s thrived. But does he belong there?
So far in spring, Julio has shown he’s worthy of a starting spot in the rotation. He’s made three starts, throwing a combined six innings. In his six innings of work, Urías has six strikeouts, and has allowed only one hit, which was a home run.
His velocity has increased as well, as he’s touched 97 this spring.
Julio Urías hitting 97 mph pic.twitter.com/Y2vmD1855N— True Blue LA (@truebluela) March 10, 2019
When the Dodgers signed a 16-year-old Urías back in 2012, they have envisions of him eventually becoming a starter. He started 15 games in 2016, and then five in 2017, but season-ending anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder kept him out over a year.
He finally looks healthy, and looks like he’s ready to be a full-time starter yet again. With a crowded starting rotation, only time will tell on how long he’ll need to wait. Injuries are apart of the game, so he could slide in sooner rather than later.
Or, they could build him in the bullpen for the first few months to conserve innings, and then transition him into the starting rotation midway through the season.
It’s unclear or how or when he’ll get there, but when it’s all said and done, Julio Urías needs to be a starter in 2019.