While Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen remains absent from camp, manager Dave Roberts says he isn’t worried about him… yet. Still, with so much riding on this shortened 60 game season, even if Jansen arrives at Dodger Stadium this weekend, 10 days or so really doesn’t feel like enough time to get him ready for game action.
Despite this, Roberts says he’s not ready to entertain closer alternatives just yet, but that didn’t stop LA Times scribe Bill Plaschke from thinking outside the box for the Dodgers.
In a recent column, Plaschke actually thought way outside the box, but it might not be as far fetched of an idea as it seems.
You want to really lock it in? Make Julio Urias your closer. Yeah, do that. Do it now. The 23-year-old left-hander is plenty valuable as a fourth starter, especially with David Price opting out, but right now he’s needed in the bullpen. He not only has better career numbers as a reliever, but last season out of the bullpen he had a 2.01 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 19 walks in 49 1/3 innings. – Bill Plaschke, LA Times.
So far, he’s not wrong. Urias picked up 4 saves out of the bullpen last season while Kenley Jansen blew a career-high 8 saves, not that that would be the overriding factor. Moreover, Dave Roberts says the club views Julio as a starter at this time… with the window left open a crack.
“I think that there’s a chance for anything.”
Of course, this was the season where the training wheels would finally be taken off for the 23-year-old lefty. Urias totaled 79.2 innings pitched last regular season. He added 3.2 in the postseason. Even if he made 12 starts this year and went 6 innings in each, he’d only amas 72 innings.
Additionally, El Culichi came into spring training excited to compete for a spot in the rotation. He was more or less promised a rotation spot if he came into spring training 1.0 slimmed down and healthy, which he did.
Now, he understands that things can change…
“Just like every year, I’m ready for anything — the mentality is to stay healthy and do whatever they need from me,” Urias said through an interpreter. “When I was in spring training they told me I had a spot in the rotation but I know things change and whatever’s best for the team we’ll respect it and I know it’s a short season so I’ll do whatever they need.”
The Dodgers bullpen is notably weak when it comes to left-handed pitching. Adam Kolarek potentially rendered ineffective with the new 3-batter minimum rule. Scott Alexander missed most of 2019 with a forearm issue. Whether it’s as the closer, or as a setup man, Urias bolsters a relief core that might have more questions than we want to believe. Should this odd-ball season come with more out of the box thinking?