Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said today that Julio Urias could begin the year in extended spring training in an effort to limit his innings.
Urias, who is only 20, threw 122 innings last season between the big leagues and the minors It’s just one of a number of options on the table. Urias logged 122 innings between the majors and the minors in 2016, and another 5.2 innings in the postseason. That’s a step up from his previous workloads and moving up to a 180-200 inning load which would be expected of him if he’s in the rotation all year is a lot to ask.
At the moment Urias projects to be the Dodgers’ fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda, but there are other arms who could step up if Urias were to have his workload lessened in 2017, including Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who said yesterday that he’s feeling good after missing a lot of time.
The smart money, of course, is that if the Dodgers are, as expected, contenders once again, Urias will be a part of that success and will be counted on to take the ball come September and October. All of which makes ensuring that he’s got something left in the tank then of paramount importance.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.