TORONTO — The Dodgers are contemplating calling up their top pitching prospect, 19-year-old left-hander Julio Urias, as a reliever, manager Dave Roberts said Saturday.
“Internally, there’s talk,” Roberts said. “He just came off another great outing. I think that we’re thinking through a lot of options and Urias is definitely at the top of the list.”
Starting three days ago fopr Triple-A Oklahoma City, Urias flirted with a perfect game, settling for six no-hit innings. He’s started four games this season and pitched another in relief, compiling a 1.88 earned-run average in 24 innings.
Urias is on an innings limit this season, believed to be in the neighborhood of 100. (He threw 80 1/3 innings across three levels last year.) While the organization sees his future as a starting pitcher, it’s not hard to argue the Dodgers need more help in the bullpen. Dodger relievers have a 4.26 ERA and a 4.14 FIP this season, while their starters have a 3.54 ERA and a 3.37 FIP.
Whether he pitches at Triple-A or the majors, the Dodgers have a fairly straightforward choice with Urias: Get a full season out of him as a reliever or a partial season out of him as a starter — or at least significantly limit the length of his starts.
“Julio can do a lot of different things, whether it be out of the pen or as a starter,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of a necessity-based thing as far as when he’s ready which — things are showing that he’s getting to that point.”
Dodger relievers have struggled more against right-handed batters (.400 opponents’ slugging percentage, 15th in MLB) than left-handers (.296 opponents’ slugging percentage, best in MLB). But Roberts views the left-handed Urias as a pitcher who can retire both lefties and righties. He also hinted that Urias could pitch multiple innings out of the ‘pen — which makes sense for a club that’s struggled to bridge the gap between its starting pitcher and closer Kenley Jansen.
“It’s just a nice luxury to have if we decide to go that way,” Roberts said.