The Los Angeles Dodgers last season were hit hard with injuries and had to use 15 different starting pitchers. That was the second most by any team in baseball.
Only Atlanta, which is going through a rebuilding stage, used more pitchers at 16 than the Dodgers. In 2016, none of the other teams to reach the playoffs used over 12 different starters during the season.
One of the 15 starters for the Dodgers was Julio Urias, the young left-hander who debuted in the majors at 19 and ended his 2016 season with 77 innings pitched with the Dodgers and an ERA of 3.39.
Urias in 2016 threw 127 2/3 innings, which was his career high and included time in the minors, majors and postseason. His career high previous to that was 87 innings back in 2014.
In 2017, it is expected that Urias could pitch as many as 180 innings or more. However, that kind of work could take its toll on the youngster and the Dodgers are planning to control his innings count.
One option is to have Urias attend an extended spring training. When the end of spring training arrives, the big-leaguers go north and the majority of minor leaguers get assigned to an affiliate.
The players not ready for a full season go to their extended spring training to continue training and preparing to join the big-leaguers.
Instead of starting the 2017 season with Urias as a starter, Los Angeles would keep at extended spring training allowing him to throw but not in a real game situation.
Once the Dodgers are ready to have him join them they would recall him and he becomes one of their starters. June is the end of extended spring training, but he could be recalled before then.
Teams come up with an array of different things to limit innings pitched by young pitchers. In 2012, the Washington Nationals just shut down Stephen Strasburg when he reached his innings limit in September set prior to the start of the season.
Pitchers have skipped starts or been moved into the bullpen. Some teams have not even bothered with limiting innings and allowed their young arms to continue pitching.
With the depth the Dodgers have in starters and if injuries do not hit them like last season, then the team can afford to keep Urias out of the starting rotation until June.