Last night was the major league debut Julio Urias had always dreamed of – even though it wasn’t perfect. It was probably closer to what he had fantasized about while climbing the ladder in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system as the top prospect. Hell, Urias was top dog among all novatos in baseball. Unfortunately, those dreams became a nightmare, because lately, his employers have poorly handled the youngster.
Due to mounting injuries on the Dodger pitching staff, Urias made his first MLB start on the road in New York City against baseball’s defending National League champs, the New York Mets. The outing was more like a nightmare, with Julio removed before finishing the third inning. The next day, Urias took another punch to the gut by being demoted back to the farm. What’s crazy is that only a few days later, the executive suits had a change in strategy. Urias was once again asked to be the designated “savior” and make a start in Chicago against the beloved Cubbies, a team that has the best record in the National League. That didn’t go well either, and Julio was mugged for eight hits and three bombs over five innings.
What is difficult to understand is why the Dodger front office and manager Dave Roberts decided to throw this kid to the wolves. Is this the proper way to handle a rookie who might be the future face of the franchise but can’t even legally buy a beer? Why would the Dodgers, a team that has the highest payroll in baseball, want to gamble with the well-being of a player they highly value who makes minimum union wage? Fortunately, Urias is extremely mature for his age, and understands that baseball is a game of challenges and resilience.
Facing new challenges with his confidence shaky, Urias finally got his chance to open up at home yesterday against the Colorado Rockies, and he pitched much better. On this occasion, Julio worked four innings against a strong Rockies offense, giving up only one run while striking out seven. The fastball was lively, the curve was biting, and the home fans were appreciative. Finally, there was something positive to ponder.
What should the Dodgers do moving forward with Julio Urias? One thing’s for sure: they should keep him on the big boy roster for the remainder of the season. Progress must be monitored from within, and not from long distance in the minor leagues. Since Urias is subject to a strict pitch count, let him work out of the bullpen in less stressful situations. Let him learn and grow from the best in the business, giving him the opportunity to absorb what it’s like to play in a potential playoff atmosphere.
Thus far, the Dodgers have done a horrible job of taking care of Julio Urias at the big league level. But that doesn’t mean the problem can’t be fixed with a bit of common sense. Hopefully, Roberts and the guys upstairs are listening.