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Dodgers: Could the Need for Left Handed Relief Change Roles for Julio Urias?



The Dodgers and manager Dave Roberts have been pretty open with the fact that the club wants Julio Urias in the starting rotation this season. After spending much of the 2019 season as a reliever, the 23-year-old set out this past offseason on a mission to get ready for a starter’s workload.

But does Julio as a starter give the club its best opportunity to win ballgames?

If there’s one obvious need the club has seen so far this spring, its the need for left-handed relief. As it stands, Scott Alexander appears to be healthy and is producing in Cactus League play (1 earned run in 3 innings pitched). Adam Kolarek has an ERA over 14 (!) in 5 games and appears to be headed to Triple-A to start the season. Moreover, he appears to be a guy that will suffer greatly from the new MLB 3-batter minimum rule starting this season.

Caleb Ferguson is working on becoming a starter again and is likely headed to Triple-A to start the season as well.

However, over in the starting rotation, there are currently 4 left-handed pitchers slated to take the ball every fifth day. One of those lefties is Julio Urias. 

Roberts seems to have already set most of the opening day bullpen in his mind, and in that bullpen is 2018 All-Star starter — and RHP — Ross Stripling. But the balance of arms could be better if those roles were reversed.

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In 2019, Julio Urias dominated left-handed batters, allowing only a .198 average against. He can also dominate right-handed batters (.203 in 2019), which better suits the new 3-batter rule.

For Stripling, his career ERA is better in relief (3.12) over starting (3.71), but he has shown the ability to be dominant as a starter when given an extended opportunity. While the role reversal may not give the rotation its best starting 5, it may be the best balance for the pitching staff.

Let me know your thoughts? Should LA just let Julio finally start? Maybe Alex Wood would consider the bullpen (he won’t)? 

NEXT: Could Julio Urias Still Have an Innings Limit in 2020?

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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  1. If Ferguson wants to be a starter, he’s on the wrong team. With the Dodgers, he belongs in the bullpen. Urias was no lock for a starter role except by an ill advised proclamation by Roberts. He should play wherever it helps the team the most, starter or bullpen. May and Gonsolin should both be in the bullpen as long releivers with occasional starts immediately or at least by mid season. Graterol should be a force in the bullpen by mid season as well. Alexander should be demoted to the minors. He has had his shot, and rarely been impressive. The bullpen has been a weakness for the last two years. We finally got some talent (including Treinen). We now need to use that talent by culling some of the deadwood of the past two years to make room.

  2. Alex Wood works for the Dodgers. If they tell him he is going to the pen, then thats where he goes. Never should have resigned him anyway. He is not a team guy.

  3. I don’t know what it is but Urias just doesn’t seem to be a guy we can can’t on for 28-30 starts and get 5 innings from in 20 of them. I see Urias as the mid relief 2-3 inning guy that can come in every odd or even number day/game. This may build his innings up and get him more to secure the 5 inning minimum that a starter must have for a high percent of his designated number of starts.

  4. The Dodgers can count on Urias if they just left him alone. He is our 4th starter this year. ‘Nuff said.

  5. If Urias was eventually sent to the BP, that would most likely mean a 2nd RHP can slot into starting rotation, and IMHo that seems to give rotation a bit better balance, since as it stands Dodgers would be sending 4 LHP in row out there after Buehler’s 2nd spot.

  6. Let Urias start as an opportunity to prove he is a big league stopper, from prospect to promise to “winning time” starter.

  7. Your best pitchers should start, regardless of which side they throw from. Why switch out Urias for Stripling when Urias pitches better to both lefties and righties than Stripling does? Stripling is a fine bullpen arm and can also serve as a longman with decent splits, when needed. He also seems to find a way into the starting rotation anyway, so he’ll be fine. I think Urias makes a big step forward this year and pushes for #3 in the rotation.

  8. The kid has amazing potential. Leave him be. We have plenty of trade bait, especially w a few Spring surprises to get a quality LH bullpen arm.

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