Julio Urias will start for the Dodgers in first game back from suspension
The Dodgers spun the revolving door on their rotation Monday. In was left-hander Julio Urias, who returned from a 20-game suspension for a domestic violence allegation. Out was right-hander Kenta Maeda, who moved to the bullpen to prepare for his annual postseason relief role.
Urias, suspended after his May arrest on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery — he was accused of shoving his girlfriend in a Beverly Center parking lot — will start Tuesday night with a limit of about three innings and 45 pitches.
Manager Dave Roberts said Urias will make a second start with a target of four innings and 60 pitches, and continue to build arm strength throughout September, giving the Dodgers another fourth-starter option for the playoffs if left-hander Rich Hill, who is recovering from a forearm injury, is not ready by October.
“With where he’s at, we want to keep it alive as an option,” Roberts said, when asked whether Urias is auditioning for a playoff rotation spot. “We want to get his pitch count up, make another start, and we’ll go from there.”
Gavin Lux didn’t disappoint in his major league debut with the Dodgers on Monday, generating a surreal buzz that was felt by both his family and fans.
Urias, whose career was derailed by shoulder surgery in 2018, has thrown 67 2/3 innings in 27 games this season, going 4-3 with a 2.53 ERA. Though he was not charged with a crime, he accepted a suspension for “my inappropriate conduct during the incident.” He believes he has put the incident behind him.
“I’m trying to cooperate with the league; I was going to respect whatever decision they made,” Urias said through an interpreter. “I’m trying not to be a distraction for my team. Now, I’m just looking ahead, preparing for the postseason. I’m happy that my teammates received me.”
How will Dodgers fans receive Urias after his arrest?
“I really don’t know,” he said. “Whatever decision they make, whether it’s good or bad, I’m going to go out there and give 100%.”
Maeda is 8-8 with a 4.11 ERA in 26 starts but could be more valuable to an inconsistent bullpen. He has a 2.08 ERA in 17 1/3 innings of 17 postseason relief appearances in 2017 and 2018.
He pitched four innings in relief Monday, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out five.
“Could he make another start? Yes,” Roberts said. “But for the time being, we’re going to see Kenta out of the bullpen to prepare him for leverage innings in the postseason.”
In this corner
A.J. Pollock made his first start this season in left field Monday night. It will not be his last. Roberts said the center fielder will play more left field in anticipation of using the versatile Cody Bellinger in center field and Max Muncy at first base.
“As you look at the postseason, there’s a good scenario where we could see Cody, who has the most range out there, to play center field, and Max potentially at first base,” Roberts said. “To get A.J. reps in left field now makes sense. He’s on board with it, which is no surprise.”
Roberts said Kenley Jansen, who has a career-high 3.76 ERA in 52 games and has converted 27 of 34 save opportunities, remains the team’s closer, with a caveat.
Joc Pederson hits two home runs before a collision with the right field wall ends his night early in the Dodgers’ 16-9 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
“I think that, in the traditional role, he is the closer, but his openness to pitch in the eighth inning, which he’s done on the road, to extend a game, gives us a lot more options,” Roberts said of Jansen, who was not available Monday after pitching the two previous days.
“And that’s the way you should construct a bullpen, when you have guys like Pedro [Baez], Joe [Kelly] and Kenta, who you feel confident in closing games.”
Dustin May had some soreness in his neck and head after being hit in the head by a Jake Lamb line drive Sunday but played catch Monday and said, “I’m good, I’m all clear.” … Hill threw 35 pitches — fastballs and curves — in a 35-pitch bullpen session. He will face hitters in simulated-game action Friday or Saturday. … Outfielder Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) began a rehabilitation stint with rookie-league Ogden (Utah). … Right-hander Josh Sborz was recalled from triple A.
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