Julio Urias said at FanFest he’s ready to throw as many innings as the Dodgers need. L.A. may have other thoughts.
The Dodgers are considering Urias pitching in extending spring training, while Urias told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register he’ll “respect” whatever decision the franchise makes.
Roberts was asked on #LAToday about Urias in extended spring: "Ultimately we have to have him ready to pitch meaningful games in Sep & Oct."
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) January 25, 2017
The Dodgers will consider starting Julio Urias in extended spring training to save his innings, Dave Roberts said.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) January 25, 2017
Julio Urias on #Dodgers likely putting cap on his IP in 2017: "That's their decision and I'll respect whatever it is." (thru translator)
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) January 28, 2017
The Dodgers are wise to protect the lefty’s arm. Urias won’t be able to buy his first legal beer until August. He and his agent Scott Boras have previously agreed to take a conservative route to building up his stamina. In fact, referenced in the linked Los Angeles Times story is Boras’ comment on young pitchers.
“Boras said his company’s research indicates that pitchers who throw more than 650 major league innings before their 24th birthdays are unlikely to be productive after they are 30.”
Urias pitched 77 major league innings last year. He’d need to average around 143.2 per season over the next four to hit Boras’ 650 mark.
Boras is well-regarded for his negotiation tactics. It’s naive to think those comments aren’t traced to Urias’ earning power. Urias can hit the market at age 26. Boras can advertise his low innings count in talks, collect a lengthy deal with an opt-out in a few years, then play the same card. It results in one, if not two paydays for Urias before he turns 30.
There are benefits from the Dodgers’ perspective as well. The team wants Urias to be a long-term pillar, and limiting his innings now is the best means to do that. Clayton Kershaw is 28, and contrary to what many believe, Father Time is undefeated. When Kershaw starts to near the near, Urias will be in his prime. The situation lines up perfectly for Los Angeles to avoid life without an ace. If Urias develops to be as extraordinary as the scouting reports suggested, the Dodgers won’t sweat giving him his mid-20s mega-deal; especially knowing his arm will still be fresh.
Los Angeles wants to win this year, but that doesn’t mean Urias has to be a team staple from April to October. Dave Roberts’ plan could be best for both sides. If extended spring training doesn’t come to fruition, the Dodgers have enough pitching depth to skip Urias’ starts when Roberts feels it’s appropriate.
Similar to last season, the Dodgers’ depth will be put to the test.