After undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in 2017, the following season was very much about Julio Urias getting acclimated to being back on a mound. He appeared in just three games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and went into this past season on an innings limit.
The organization never publicly stated what the targeted amount was, though most presumed it was in the neighborhood of 120 innings. Although the young left-hander was frustrated by the setback in his career, he remained understanding of the Dodgers’ restricting his workload.
Injuries to Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw during Spring Training led to both beginning the season on the 10-day injured list and created a need for temporary starters. Urias was a member of the Opening Day rotation but also earmarked as the first who would be bumped to the bullpen.
He strung together four outings before Kershaw’s return and maintained there was not any issue in the bullpen role. Urias was as a spot starter in bullpen games four separate occasions after that, but otherwise pitched in relief.
His season was interrupted by an arrest in May on suspicion of domestic violence. Urias spent the minimum requirement of seven days on the restricted list before being placed back on the active roster.
Although under the radar, MLB’s investigation into the incident remained open and despite legal charges not being pressed, he was suspended 20 games on Aug. 17; Urias was credited for five games missed while on administrative leave.
“Today I accepted a suspension from Major League Baseball and agreed not to exercise my right to appeal,” he said in a statement released at the time. “It is important to me not to create uncertainty for my teammates as we approach the playoffs.
“Accepting the suspension is the best path to achieve that goal. Since May, I have been fully cooperating with both law enforcement and MLB. Although the authorities determined no charges of any kind were warranted, I take full responsibility for what I believe was my inappropriate conduct during the incident.
“Even in this instance where there was no injury or history of violence, I understand and agree that Major League players should be held to a higher standard. I hold myself to a higher standard as well. I have taken proactive steps to help me grow as a person on and off the field, and in my relationships, including attending counseling sessions.
“I am deeply grateful for all the support I’ve received during this challenging time. I look forward to proving it is well deserved.”
In most cases such a suspension would entail a player not being eligible for the postseason, but that did not apply to Urias. He finished the regular season 4-3 with four saves, a 2.49 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 79.2 innings pitched across 37 games (eight starts).
Urias additionally threw 3.2 innings in three appearances during the National League Division Series.
Urias’ last of four consecutive starts to begin the season was a stellar outing that saw him fire six shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. He collected nine strikeouts and allowed just one hit to help the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory at Miller Park.
With the Dodgers potentially losing Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu in free agency, Friedman has identified Urias as one of the candidates to be a fixture in the club’s starting rotation next season.
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