Not every prospect makes it. Most never do. Most prospects don’t play above double-A ball. Some just get hurt and fade out of the spotlight. Not every prospect is going to be a super star like Corey Seager, or Cody Bellinger. Those guys are rare talents. So when the Dodgers announced today that young left handed starting pitcher Julio Urias needed shoulder surgery it was not only not surprising, but supremely depressing. What the Dodgers have been petrified of happening has actually happened. Urias is out indefinitely.
The news is actually far worse than any of us could have imagined. Not only will Urias need surgery to repair an anterior capsule, he’ll be sidelined for 12-14 months. This is a huge blow to the future plans of the Dodger pitching staff. Did the Dodgers ruin him by not allowing him to pitch on a normal schedule?
When the Dodgers originally decided to limit his innings, they had put a hard cap on him. No more than X amount of innings total they would say. Best laid plans of mice and men of course. Urias did exceed those limits last season, but not by much.
This season the Dodgers decided that they wanted to treat him with kid gloves and extra baby him. They announced that they would be leaving him in extended spring training. Once the major leaguers broke camp to fly to Los Angeles, Urias would remain in Glendale. I’m not sure exactly what he did there, but I know he wasn’t pitching in real games.
Whether he was sitting around, or throwing bullpen sessions, or throwing simulated games, he wasn’t allowed to actually pitch in real live games until he was optioned to triple-A Oklahoma City several weeks later. He did finally join the Dodgers later in the season because of injuries to the major league staff, but he didn’t pitch long before he was sent back down to Oklahoma City.
Urias made only five starts at the MLB level and posted an ERA of 5.21 while struggling with this command. Urias walked 14 and struck out only 11 in 23.2 innings pitched. In 6 starts at Oklahoma City, Urias posted a 2.59 ERA. He tossed 31.1 innings, but also had trouble with command down there as well.
Andrew Friedman stated that Urias suffered the injury on one pitch (calling it an “acute” injury), and not because of overwork. I don’t know if that is true or not, but obviously the injury can’t be because of overwork. Urias only pitched a little over 54 frames in 2017 between the Dodgers and Oklahoma City. So did the lack of a consistent schedule contribute to this injury?
This further proves the fact that pitch counts, and innings limits are useless. A young pitcher can blow out his arm in one inning, let alone over the course of many seasons. I think the lesson learned from this is that the Dodgers and other MLB clubs should allow their young hurlers to throw on a set schedule. That doesn’t mean you allow them to throw 300 innings, but you can monitor their workload while allowing them to develop via a normal throwing program.
I’m not saying this is the fault of Dodger management. But I think having him on a set throwing schedule instead of sitting him, then sending him up and down would have probably benefited him more than not. Get well soon Julio.