Dodgers dealt double blow with Julio Urías’ delayed return and walk-off loss

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías, right, is greeted in the dugout before a game.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Dodgers have been running short on pitching options lately.

Both to start games — and finish them.

In less than a week, the team went from having a potential surplus of starting pitching to being shorthanded in the rotation once again after a setback to Julio Urías’ hamstring injury.

In that same time, they’ve watched their once-improving bullpen slip back into a late-game slump, suffering their third walk-off loss of this week’s trip in a 5-4 defeat Friday to the Philadelphia Phillies.


“A loss is a loss, but when you feel like you’re in it and you get walked off, that never feels good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “This is a resilient team and we’ve got to keep going.”

To do so, however, the Dodgers will need to find more consistent answers to their myriad issues on the mound.

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For most of Friday, the Dodgers’ rotation problems loomed largest at Citizens Bank Park.

Prior to the game, Roberts announced that Urías had felt some discomfort in his hamstring during a bullpen session Thursday, was being scratched from his scheduled return to the rotation Sunday, and will now likely need at least another week or two (as well as a minor league rehab stint) before rejoining the team.

“He’s going to keep throwing,” Roberts said. “But I think when he tries to ramp up the intensity is when he sort of feels the tightness in the hamstring.”

Once the first pitch arrived, it again became apparent how badly the Dodgers miss him.

To combat the left-handed stars at the top of the Phillies’ batting order, the Dodgers used left-handed reliever Victor González as an opener in front of rookie right-hander Michael Grove — one of the four healthy pitchers left in the Dodgers’ rotation.

The plan worked early on, with González and Grove combining for a scoreless first inning to protect the team’s early one-run lead.

The next two times Grove faced the Phillies’ top bats, though, things went sideways quickly.


Kyle Schwarber tripled and scored in the third inning to tie the score.

Then, after Miguel Vargas misplayed a grounder to lead off the fifth, Grove was unable to escape the frame, yielding three more runs on a walk, RBI double, run-scoring wild pitch and RBI single.

“Just didn’t throw the ball well at all today,” Grove said, after giving up four runs and seven hits in four-plus innings. “Made a few pitches when I needed to, but stuff piled up and just wasn’t executing.”

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The Dodgers’ offense briefly bailed him out, tying the score at 4-4 on back-to-back home runs from Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in the top of the seventh.

Middle relievers Alex Vesia (11/3 scoreless innings) and Shelby Miller (two scoreless innings) then got the game to the ninth inning, keeping a come-from-behind victory within the Dodgers’ reach.

Alas, just one out from forcing extra innings, left-hander Caleb Ferguson instead was on the short end of a second walk-off loss this week.

In a 1-and-1 count against Schwarber, Ferguson threw a cutter that stayed over the heart of the plate. Schwarber pounced on it, sending a line-drive home run screaming into the right-field seats.


“Just one bad pitch to a really good hitter,” Ferguson said. “Left it over the middle of the plate. That’s what they do.”

Ferguson’s effort Friday wasn’t nearly as ugly as the three-run, three-walk blown save he suffered Tuesday in Cincinnati.

Kyle Schwarber, center, celebrates with his Philadelphia Phillies teammates after hitting a walk-off home run.
Kyle Schwarber, center, celebrates with his Philadelphia Phillies teammates after hitting a walk-off home run against the Dodgers in the ninth inning Friday.
(Rich Schultz / Getty Images)

“He’s frustrated,” said Roberts, who consoled the reliever with a quick chat postgame. “You never want to get walked off. But that potential comes with pitching late in games.”

And though the Dodgers’ late-game bullpen plan remains uncertain — especially on nights such as Friday, when top reliever Evan Phillips was going to be available only for a save situation after a heavy recent workload — their shorthanded rotation could cause the biggest headaches for the next few weeks.

Without Urías, the Dodgers will have to pivot to a bullpen game Sunday. After that, they haven’t decided how they will compensate for the left-hander’s latest setback.


Their minor league pitching depth is thin, especially because Gavin Stone is considered a non-option at the moment, according to Roberts, after his recent big league struggles.

With four off days this month, Roberts said the Dodgers could try to proceed with a four-man rotation instead until Urías is ready — though that plan threatens to put further strain on their overworked relievers.

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“Given the off days, I think we potentially could manage it,” Roberts said. “I think where we stand, we’ll be OK.”

Maybe. But at this juncture, the Dodgers are in an unenviable position, trying to work around absences in their rotation and inconsistencies in their bullpen that have culminated in a sudden, deflating 1-4 stretch.