When Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch for Spring Training, it marked the beginning of an evaluation process to answer questions before Opening Day of the 2020 season.
Perhaps the biggest uncertainty of them all is in the starting rotation as the Dodgers have nine qualified pitchers competing for five spots.
As it currently stands, L.A. has three locks to make the rotation in Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and David Price if they are all healthy. That leaves Julio Urias, Alex Wood, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Ross Stripling and Jimmy Nelson vying for the final two spots.
Urias is considered the favorite, if not a lock, to be the team’s fourth starter. The 23-year-old spent much of the 2019 season as a reliever due to an innings restriction placed on him in his first full season coming off shoulder surgery.
The Dodgers have taken the leash off Urias in 2020 though, and he is expected to return to his customary role as a starter despite the success he had coming out of the bullpen last year.
In addition to a change in role, Urias will also be making some other changes as well. He pitched out of the stretch for the entirety of the 2019 season but is going to his usual semi-windup with no one on base this season, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I think it helps me get consistent rhythm in my delivery,” Urías said. “I don’t face the plate; I stand with my foot along the rubber, but I’m open a little and I think it helps me.”
It’s not uncommon to see relievers pitch solely out of the stretch due to how many times they enter games with runners already on base.
While a change in delivery could help Urias, the main key to his success in 2020 will be health. He has already shown why the organization has been so high on him when they signed him out of Mexico at 16 years of age, but so far in his young career, he has not been able to carry a starter’s workload and stay healthy.
Considering the Dodgers have so many capable starters, they will likely manage the workloads of Urias, Kershaw, Price and anyone else with an extensive injury history. That should help keep them all healthy and ready for another October run.
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