The Dodgers welcomed left-hander Julio Urias back from the 15-day injured list earlier this evening to start tonight’s game against the Royals. Urias has been on the shelf since late May with a hamstring strain and suffered a setback early last month as he neared a return. He now appears to be fully healthy, stepping back into the rotation with a 4.39 ERA and 5.30 FIP through ten starts this season. A free agent at season’s end, Urias’s performance will be of great importance not only to the Dodgers, but to Urias himself as the 27-year-old hurler looks poised to enter the open market as one of the top arms available.
Urias’s return couldn’t come at a better time, as Mike DiGiovanna of The LA Times notes that club ace Clayton Kershaw is dealing with inflammation in his shoulder following his start against the Rockies on Tuesday. Kershaw received a cortisone injection on Thursday and hopes to return to the mound Monday without missing a start, though comments from manager Dave Roberts indicate that may not come to pass. Roberts told reporters, including DiGiovanna, that Kershaw’s bullpen session went “just OK” and that Kershaw would likely require a trip to the injured list if he isn’t ready for Monday’s start. Should that situation come to pass, right-hander Michael Grove would likely fill in for Kershaw on Monday.
Any missed time for Kershaw, who sports a sterling 2.55 ERA and 3.53 FIP through 95 1/3 innings of work this season, would be a blow to the Dodgers, though the club is fortunate to have a variety of young hurlers on tap to cover innings as needed. Grove, Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, and Gavin Stone have combined to start nearly a quarter of the club’s games so far in the 2020 campaign as each of Urias, Tony Gonsolin, Noah Syndergaard, and Dustin May have missed time this season.
Utility man Chris Taylor, on the other hand, has not been so easy for the club to fill in for. Taylor went on the injured list last weekend with a bone bruise that has kept him from taking the field since June 16th. With youngsters Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas both having struggled at the big league level this season, the club has been forced to get creative in covering for Taylor, using Mookie Betts in the infield more often while relying on depth options such as Johnny DeLuca and Yonny Hernandez. Unfortunately for LA, the club figures to be without Taylor for awhile yet, as Roberts tells reporters (including DiGiovanna) that the 32 year old won’t return to action until after the All Star break.
In 182 trips to the plate this season, Taylor has slashed .206/.275/.455 good for a 94 wRC+ that clocks in at just below league average. Still, that production has been valuable to the club thanks to Taylor’s ability to play all over the diamond; Taylor has logged time at center field, second base, third base, shortstop, and left field throughout the 2023 campaign, with most of his innings coming at the latter three positions.