Roberts: No better stage for Urias to debut

Roberts: No better stage for Urias to debut

NEW YORK -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the club had no qualms about throwing No. 1 prospect Julio Urias into the fire in New York, of all places.

"We thought it through as an organization, and we just feel good that his time is now," Roberts said Friday afternoon before Urias allowed three runs in just 2 2/3 innings in the Dodgers' 6-5 loss to the Mets. "We believe in Julio as a player. This is fun for baseball in general. For us, there's no better stage."

Roberts said the 19-year-old Urias would have a 90-pitch limit, more than he's ever thrown. Beyond Friday night's start, the Dodgers remained non-committal.

Urias' first career strikeout

"Going forward, as an organization, we'll monitor his innings," Roberts said. "After tonight, we'll sit down and evaluate what's best for Julio and the organization. It's kind of a day-by-day thing. We know how impactful he is, but we're cognizant of his usage and his future."

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Thursday that the most likely method of limiting Urias' innings is to balance his usage between starts and relief appearances the rest of the way, including more time in the Minor Leagues. Of all the options, the only possibility off the table is Urias remaining in the Major League rotation the entire season.

He is, after all, not Fernando Valenzuela, who pitched two years in the Mexican League and two years in the Minor Leagues before his Dodgers debut at age 19.

"Naturally, that's the comp," said Roberts. "But to compare anyone with Fernando and what he did, the impact he made on the Mexican community and the Dodgers and baseball in general, is unfair. Julio is Julio. I understand the comp, but that's a tall order.

"I was a little too young for the Beatles, but talk about a craze and Los Angeles baseball -- there was a craze and frenzy and I saw it with Fernando."

Some have compared the anticipation of Urias' arrival to that of Clayton Kershaw in 2008. Kershaw said there's no comparison.

"He's way more prepared," Kershaw said. "He's just better than I was, light years ahead of when I came up. He's really prepared for this. I'm thankful for when I came up, but I learned up here. He's already learned and he's good to go. He's got four pitches. That's more than I've got now."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.