The 20-year-old, who pitched well for the Dodgers last year and made two postseason appearances (one start), was held back in the minor leagues to open this season, as the Dodgers tried to play it safe with his innings total.
Urias made three starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City this month, posting a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings. In his most recent outing, he pitched 5⅔ shutout innings on two hits, while throwing 93 pitches.
“I think that he is throwing the ball well, and he was much more efficient in his last start,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Julio, we just feel good about the head, the confidence, the compete. He’s familiar with the big leagues, he’s pitched in playoff games, so we’re excited to get him back.”
The Dodgers gave a then 19-year-old Urias his first taste of the major leagues last season on May 27. His first two starts, on the road against the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, were a bit rocky, as Urias combined to pitch just 7⅔ innings while giving up eight earned runs and 13 hits.
His true talent began to show following his home debut on June 7. From that point until the end of the season, Urias pitched in 16 games (13 starts) and posted a 5-1 record with a 2.73 ERA.
The Dodgers have been uneven out of their starting rotation in the opening month of this season. Clayton Kershaw and Brandon McCarthy have pitched well, but Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu have not been dependable, and lefty Rich Hill already is on the disabled list with blister issues on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Ryu was better on Monday at San Francisco, giving up one run over six innings.
The Dodgers have not said what Urias’ innings limits might be this season. He threw 122 innings last season between the major leagues and the minor leagues, suggesting he will at least be asked to give that much this year, if healthy, and could push toward the 150-inning mark.
“That was why we did what we did, to kind of shorten the season, condense it, slow play it, whatever you want to say, to now get Julio here, and he can be with us for the duration,” Roberts said.