PHOENIX -- While Cole Hamels of the Rangers retired only one of six batters Friday night, the Dodgers' starting pitching depth was on display, as Brandon McCarthy pitched three scoreless innings and Julio Urias added two more in relief in a 12-2 win.
There is little doubt that Urias is one of the five best starters the Dodgers have, but at age 20, he will have his innings rationed again. Even leaving him behind in extended Spring Training is "still on the table," according to manager Dave Roberts.
Meanwhile, McCarthy is pitching as if the last two injury-marred seasons are history. He allowed only one hit and struck out three, flipping curveballs for strikes and inducing five grounders with his sinker. Roberts said McCarthy was as impressive Friday night as he's seen him this spring.
"This should be a spring like any other to me," said McCarthy, recovered from Tommy John surgery and the yips. "I'm sharper right now, got myself where I'd like to be, still evolving but better than it was last year."
McCarthy focused on his curve and cutter Friday night, saying he made progress with still room to improve. He acknowledged that he never felt comfortable returning in midseason last year, but this spring has allowed for a more normal progression.
By contrast, Urias is advanced beyond his years in pitch feel and stuff, but his competitive drive is being tested by a management determined to keep him on a tight rein.
"I feel more comfortable because of my experience last year," said Urias. "I feel like I can fight for a rotation spot and just have to wait for the decision."
Urias made three relief appearances for the Dodgers last year and four for Triple-A Oklahoma City, so the quicker warm-up required Friday night was not foreign. He struck out three with a walk and used his curveball often and successfully.
"I was able to throw the curveball against the left-handers for a first-pitch strike and I liked that," he said. "I try to work on everything as a starter. You have to go in with that mentality so you work on the sequences. Relief is different, but I did it a lot last year. There were times I had to get ready like a bullpen pitcher."
Roberts said Urias was "electric."
"We're keeping him at two innings for now, but [extended spring] is on the table, we haven't made any decisions," Roberts said. "We can still build him up if we need to. We're still mindful of the innings this year, trying to figure out the best way for Julio and for us to have valuable innings available for us as the year goes on."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.