Kershaw uniquely qualified to relate to Urias

Kershaw uniquely qualified to relate to Urias

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw remembers when the Dodgers, who are trying to protect Julio Urias' 20-year-old arm, were trying to protect his.

Urias is currently in a management-induced curb of his workload, designed to throttle back on early-season innings so he will be fresh enough to pitch in September and October without undue risk of injury. Club officials have been purposely opaque on details, but Urias might pitch for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the next week.

Kershaw's 20-year-old season was his rookie year of 2008, and it unfolded more conventionally, beginning on time at Double-A. He was called up, sent down once for three weeks after struggling and then called up again. He worked a combined 171 innings that year, up from 122 in 2007. Twice that year at Double-A, Kershaw made one-inning appearances, once as a starter.

"I think they did a really good job of increasing my workload gradually each year," Kershaw said of former general manager Ned Colletti's front office. "I didn't feel like I was not getting to pitch, but at the same time, I feel like they took care of me, too. The tricky part for them -- and different in Julio's case -- is that he's really had decent success. He hasn't struggled.

"To send me down, they didn't need an excuse, because I was struggling. It was an easy decision for me to go down and work on things. Julio dominates up here, and that's a tougher conversation, like, 'Why are you sending me down?' He's having more success earlier than I did. That makes it harder to keep him back."

In 2015, at four Minor League stops, an 18-year-old Urias threw a combined 80 1/3 innings. At 18, Kershaw threw 64 innings in high school and 37 innings in rookie ball.

In 2016 at age 19, Urias' innings jumped to 127 2/3 innings in the regular season and postseason, 82 2/3 of them in the Major Leagues, where he went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA with 84 strikeouts. Kershaw's innings went from 103 to 122 to 171.

"I don't know how you do that, I don't know the right way to do it," Kershaw said of modulating the innings. "But I definitely don't think you can have a guy that hasn't done it and run him out there every fifth day and throw 100-plus pitches for 200-plus innings if you don't have a baseline."

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.