Brandon McCarthy made 60 pitches on Wednesday, Julio Urias only 30. Guess which one is being prepared for the Dodgers’ starting rotation when the season opens, and which one isn’t? The pitchers said they haven’t been told. But even while allowing three runs in 3 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 12-7 win over Seattle, it looks like McCarthy will make it back to the rotation after Tommy John surgery and two years of challenges.
Meanwhile, management is signaling that the 20-year-old Urias will be left behind in extended Spring Training to limit innings, even if he is one of the five best starters in camp. He expects to learn his fate soon.
“They haven’t told me anything,” said Urias. “I’m guessing this week they have to make up their mind and give me their game plan. I have to respect whatever they say, whether they say to pitch for one batter or one out, I will respect their decision and do my work.”
Management seems to be hedging its bets with Urias. He was brought in for big-league camp and began preparations in case he was needed to start the season, but now that McCarthy and Alex Wood appear ready to reclaim their roles, Urias’ workload has been reduced.
“This next turn, we’ve got to get him to three innings and see where we’re at,” said manager Dave Roberts. “The guys are ramping up. I wouldn’t say the book is closed yet on Julio breaking with us [in two weeks], but if we’re going to do it, yeah, we have to ramp the innings up.
“We wanted to give him two innings, but we didn’t want him to throw more than 30 pitches. He’s a competitor, he wants to be out there. For us, we still have to look out for the best interests of him.”
Urias warmed up twice on Wednesday, but entered to pitch the sixth inning with significantly less time to prepare than a starting pitcher. He struck out leadoff hitter Daniel Vogelbach, then the inning got away. Former Dodger Carlos Ruiz doubled, Leonys Martin walked, Urias uncorked a wild pitch, Mike Freeman doubled and Urias got Tyler Smith on a fly ball with his 30th pitch and was done.
The two earned runs left Urias with a 4.76 ERA in 5 2/3 spring innings. That compares to 10 innings for Clayton Kershaw, 8 2/3 innings for Rich Hill, 7 2/3 innings for Kenta Maeda, seven innings for Wood and 8 2/3 innings for McCarthy. Six other pitchers — Ross Stripling, Trevor Oaks, Fabio Castillo, Madison Younginer, Yaisel Sierra and Patrick Schuster — have thrown more Cactus League innings this spring than Urias.
“I felt my fastball just wasn’t there,” said Urias. “It was weird, uncomfortable. I just didn’t have it. It’s a control thing, not physical. Just a bad day. They made the decision to take me out and I respect it. Today was just a bad day and you have to learn from it.”
By Ken Gumick