Just a couple of years ago at age 18, Julio Urias was the Dodgers Top Prospect. He was off-limits in any trade discussions. He was the heir apparent to Clayton Kershaw as the Dodgers Ace. As a rookie, he was much better than Clayton – not even up for debate! The Dodgers handled him with kid gloves… and then the unthinkable happened.
He was injured and had anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder. Tests showed no structural damage in Urias’ shoulder. But, Andrew Friedman said Urias had an “acute injury. It happened on a pitch. The fact that it’s not wear and tear over the years makes the prognosis better.” This in unlike the surgery Hyun-Jin Ryu had on his shoulder. He had a torn labrum. Urias’ injury was nor as severe. It was just the anterior capsule, but there was no other damage like “wear and tear.”
I am not going to pretend to be a doctor, nor am I going to boar you to tears with medical jargon. If you want to read more about the anterior capsule, specifically Johan Santana’s surgery and a great description of what is involved, read Science of Baseball: Johan Santana and Anterior Capsule Surgery by Stuart Wallace.
Long story short: Julio Urias has a very good chance of returning 100% and that is only reinforced by the fact that he is throwing 91-92 MPH already WITHOUT PAIN! He is going to start a rehab assignment this week and will likely be working out of the pen, giving Dave Roberts another lefty who can pitch multiple innings. Getting a healthy Julio Urias back mid-August is like making a deadline deal without giving up a player. I would expect that by the time he comes back, he will find an extra 2 MPH on that fastball. Like Ferguson, they will not pitch him on back-to-back days. They may want 2 or 3 days rest between appearances.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is also starting a rehab assignment and will likely be back at some point. His arm is sound – that is not why he was out. He was the Dodgers best pitcher at the start of the season and his arm (labrum) surgery was three years ago. Last year, after he missed almost all of 2015 and 2o16, Ryu pitched 126 innings – his arm should be OK and he should be fresh as he only has logged less than 30 innings this year.
Of course, you can say he is oft-injured, but this left groin tear is not arm related. I have confidence in his arm and I think he will be a factor down the stretch and in the playoffs. After all, he is pitching for a new contract (not with the Dodgers).
Ross Stripling is experiencing some fatigue, I believe. Maybe a trip to the DL would be better than moving him to the pen – he really doesn’t want to go there.
Once Ryu gets healthy, the starters would likely be:
- Buehler (give him time to get it back – it might take a couple of more starts)
That moves Wood, Stripling and Urias to the bullpen, leaving only 2 other roster spots for the bullpen (Jansen has the closer role and Ferguson is a solid piece too.). The Dodgers will play the hot hand among the relievers, be it Alexander, Chargois, Hudson, Baez, Fields, Cingrani, Liberatore, Floro, Garcia. Goeddel and Rosscup.
The Dodgers gave up a lot when they traded for Manny Machado – I do not see them giving up more. All indications are that Ryu and Urias are healthy and I believe they will offer more than any deadline deal the Dodgers could make. There will be no trade for deGrom. Clayton is the Dodgers Ace – the team was built that way and they will rise or fall with it. In the playoffs, Maeda will likely pitch out of the pen as well. By playoff time, the Dodgers much maligned bullpen, just might be their strength.