Since it was revealed that Julio Urías would need shoulder surgery back in 2017, there have been several questions about his future. When he returned, we wondered what his role would be with the Dodgers going forward. This spring, his immediate future became somewhat clearer as Dave Roberts made a somewhat surprising announcement that Ross Stripling and not Urías would be the next pitcher in the rotation should any starter (who may or may not be Clayton Kershaw) begin the year on the IL.

Ideally, Urías would begin the year in the rotation and finally get a chance to show off what he can do in a full season. That’s not entirely realistic because of the injury concerns. Instead, they’ll limit Urías’ playing time to 70 to 100 innings. What this likely means is that he’ll begin the year in the bullpen. Having him begin the year in Triple-A might be appealing, but I’m sure that if the Dodgers are limiting his innings, they’ll want to him to throw most of those innings in the majors.

Obviously, Urías is overqualified to pitch out of the pen. In his limited time last year and this spring has shown that he’s fully capable of starting in a major league rotation. In the Cactus League, Urías has been topping out at 98 mph. Heck, he was a major league starter three years ago when he was 19.

The Dodgers want to be careful with Urías, and rightfully so. He still has the talent to be the next ace of the team even with Walker Buehler on the roster. Rushing him back could exacerbate his shoulder issues and completely derail a career that’s already had its share of road blocks. Including the postseason, Urías only threw 21 2/3 professional innings in 2018.