SAN FRANCISCO -- Think of Julio Urias as a pile of sandbags, deployed by the Los Angeles Dodgers against the early flood of injuries. Nobody in the Dodgers' organization thinks he's a perfect fix for the rotation, given his lack of experience, unrefined fastball command and pitch count limitations.
Urias will take the ball again for his fourth career start here Sunday night against the Giants, and he could push his pitch count to 90-95. The hope is that he buys time, in competitive stints of four or five innings, until reinforcements arrive.
The strong belief on the staff is that real help is on the way, in the form of Brandon McCarthy, who continues to make progress in his recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery and will rejoin the rotation soon, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is again climbing the ladder of medical treatment, as Andy McCullough writes.
But there is also a lot of excitement about a weapon forming in their minor league system: hard-throwing Frankie Montas, who was acquired as part of a three-team deal with the White Sox and Reds last winter, along with outfielder Trayce Thompson and infielder Micah Johnson.
Initially, the Dodgers anticipated Montas would have a chance to be a late-inning reliever for manager Dave Roberts this season, crushing hitters with a fastball that rides in the high 90s. But in recent weeks, as the Dodgers scrambled for rotation options, they used Montas as a starter, and he has looked great in Triple-A. Starting against Nashville in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday, Montas allowed one run in four innings, with no walks and six strikeouts. In his next turn, Montas' pitch count will be extended and he could work five or six innings.
Urias is a star prospect who has shown he could eventually have high impact for the Dodgers. But probably not this year, because he's quickly running out of innings.
But Montas is four years older, and because an injury has held him back at the outset of this year, he'll have plenty of innings for the last 3 1/2 months of the regular season.
Urias appreciates the confidence the Dodgers have shown in him.