Decision awaits on Urias after two more starts

Dodgers plan to limit innings for teenage rookie

Decision awaits on Urias after two more starts

LOS ANGELES -- Julio Urias will take two more turns as a starter for the Dodgers before the team decides whether to lift the teenager from the rotation in order to limit his innings.

The southpaw is scheduled to start Friday against the Brewers, then is in line for a Wednesday start against the Nationals. After that, manager Dave Roberts said the team "will go from there."

In four starts to begin his MLB career, Urias has struggled, but seemingly progressed with each appearance. In his last start at San Francisco, he struck out seven in a career high 5 1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs.

"He's more comfortable being on a Major League mound, being around the clubhouse, seeing scouting reports," Roberts said. "Everything he does speaks to him continuing to be more comfortable."

Urias also hasn't thrown more than 89 pitches at any level in his professional career, but that could change with his upcoming start against the Brewers. Roberts said that he had reached the area of 90-100 pitches.

Despite that progression, both Urias' age and past usage mean his days in the rotation are likely numbered. Urias currently sits at 58 innings pitched in 2016 between the Majors and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He pitched just 80 1/3 innings last season and a career-high 87 2/3 innings in 2014, which means staying in the rotation for the duration of the season would represent a massive jump in innings pitched as a professional.

The Dodgers have been extremely cautious with their young southpaw, so even if Urias were pitching significantly better than his current 5.82 ERA, the team would still probably limit his innings.

Roberts said he doesn't see a transition to the bullpen for Urias, so a move to Triple-A and then a shutdown is likely in the cards. The team did something similar with Ross Stripling last month, since the rookie and former Tommy John patient was also on an innings limit for 2016.

Frankie Montas was the only Minor Leaguer Roberts mentioned as a potential replacement for Urias in the rotation. The right-hander, acquired during the offseason in the trade with the White Sox that also netted Trayce Thompson, just finished a rehab assignment following rib surgery and is pitching in OKC.

Montas may only be a short-term replacement, as Roberts also said Brandon McCarthy (elbow) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) were progressing in their rehab assignments at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. McCarthy struck out four and allowed two earned runs in three innings on Thursday while Ryu is scheduled to pitch Friday.

"They're supposed to be ready. If it stays as scheduled as far as the first week of July. We'll see where their rehab takes them, but we're hopeful," Roberts said.

Also rehabbing at Rancho is Yasiel Puig, who went 1-for-2 with a walk and stolen base on Thursday. He is expected to play seven innings or four at-bats on Friday and Saturday.

"Two weeks removed from playing in a Major League game, he doesn't need nine innings to check a box," Roberts said.

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.