Julio Urias could visit Dodger Stadium next week to take part in a simulated game as the Dodgers prepare him for a role as a potentially dynamic reliever in the second half of 2018.
Urias, a 21-year-old left-hander, has begun facing hitters at the team’s complex at Camelback Ranch as he returns from surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his shoulder. Urias has not pitched in a big-league game since May 20, 2017, and the organization doesn’t think there’s enough time this season to build him up as a starter.
But he can relieve.
“To get him back in a short stint, that’s something that we feel comfortable we can bet on,” manager Dave Roberts said before Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. “We don’t know until we see it. But I think that we’re all excited for this.”
At this time of year, with the non-waiver trade deadline looming Tuesday, teams often talk up their own assets so as to not undermine their leverage in negotiations with other clubs.
The Dodgers have adopted this public stance with their relievers, heralding the recent and impending returns from the disabled list of Pedro Baez, Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani — while ignoring that only Cingrani appeared in even remotely high-leverage situations for the team in the playoffs last October, and has been less effective this season.
After acquiring Manny Machado during the All-Star break, the Dodgers are likely done making major additions to their roster. But they have made a habit in recent years of assembling arms at the deadline, picking up Fields and Jesse Chavez in 2016 and Cingrani and Tony Watson in 2017. A similar policy looks likely in 2018.
But Urias could serve as an internal solution. He was capable of effective relief as a rookie in 2016. His fastball was clocked from 88-92 mph during recent sessions in Arizona, Roberts said.
“With what we have, to go outside to do something just to do something, it’s got to really make sense,” Roberts said. “Because there’s a lot of good arms that we have, that we know that we trust internally.”