PHOENIX, Ariz. — Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said that the front office will meet this spring to discuss Julio Urias’ 2015 workload.
The 18-year-old pitcher threw 87 ⅔ innings at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last year.
“It’s just going to be using his total innings last year as a foundation and then building off that — not just regular season but even camp,” Zaidi said. “In general, you don’t want a guy’s innings to jump by more than 20 to 50 innings.”
So, somewhere between 107 ⅔ and 137 ⅔ innings then, right?
Well, it’s not quite that simple. Pitches, not innings, are the more useful barometer of a pitcher’s workload. Who knows how many pitches went into each of Urias’ innings last year. The Dodgers will have to dig into those numbers before setting a limit on Urias this season.
They’ll dig even deeper that. Live spring training batting practice pitches, which Zaidi said will begin in the coming days, count too.
The two bullpen sessions Urias has already thrown will not count toward his limit “because they’re at less than 100 percent effort,” Zaidi said, “but certainly once game action starts, spring training games, those games will definitely count toward it.
“Pitches in the bullpen where you’re at 80 or 90 percent effort, there’s a pretty clear distinction between those and when you’re actually either throwing live BP … or certainly once you get into games. Those are more legitimately part of the season-long burden.”
Urias is the headline here simply because fans want to know whether the top pitching prospect in the organization will have enough innings (really, pitches) saved up to appear in a major-league game by the end of the season. Urias is expected to begin the season at Double-A. Echoing what manager Don Mattingly said Saturday, Zaidi said it’s “pretty unlikely” that Urias will pitch for the Dodgers this season.
There’s another important takeaway here. Urias’ case offers a window into how Zaidi and Andrew Friedman approach things like inning and pitch limitations on the Dodgers’ prospects. Maybe Urias isn’t an exact template for other 18-year-olds (say for example, 2014 first-round pick Grant Holmes). But if we’re going to scrutinize how the new Dodgers’ front office uses analytics at every occasion, this is an important area to scrutinize.