Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias heading to the bullpen after New York start

ByDoug Padilla ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

NEW YORK --Julio Urias, the Los Angeles Dodgers' standout rookie pitcher, not only had his first career start at New York, it appears his last one of the season will be there as well.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that in all likelihood, Urias will be making his final start this year on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium before he transitions into the bullpen.

"I think to probably get the best usage for us this year, it's to put him in the bullpen after this start and get him acclimated to that," Roberts said before Urias took the mound Tuesday.

Urias made his first major league appearance on May 27, a start at Citi Field against the Mets. It did not go well, as he lasted 2 2/3 innings, giving up three runs with five hits and four walks. But he has steadily improved to the point that Urias was arguably the Dodgers' best pitcher in August. He made five appearances in August and had a 1.99 ERA over 22 2/3 innings.

Urias was just 19 when he made his debut, though, so the Dodgers always had their young pitcher on an innings limit, even though they never revealed exactly what that limit was. The intent always seemed to be to transition Urias to the bullpen at some point this year, with the idea that he would become a starter again next season.

Urias made his first relief appearance Aug. 3 and another Aug. 13, but injuries to other members of the rotation required the Dodgers to move their talented youngster back into the rotation.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers now want to get Urias acclimated to the bullpen.

"And I think that for us to expect him to potentially pitch in the postseason, if given the opportunity, it makes no sense to not prepare him," Roberts said. "Obviously there is still a small window where we can get him used to that setting."

The Dodgers have not specified if Urias will be a long man in relief, will be called on to pitch one inning at a time, or will be used as a left-handed specialist. They could end up trying all three roles as the regular season winds down.

Roberts mentioned Jose De Leon, Bud Norris, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling as pitchers who could assume the starting spot Urias held of late. Urias headed into his start against the Yankees with a 5-2 record in 15 appearances, with a 3.69 ERA that had been as high as 4.98 as recently as Aug. 3.