Updated: Apr 18
After a disappointing end to the 2022 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are turning the page and looking forward to the 2023 season. However, this Opening Day feels different. When the Dodgers lost to the San Diego Padres in the NLDS last season, it really was a crushing defeat for this franchise for two reasons. Not because your opponent and its fanbase treated the series victory like a World Series championship. Just because you broke the franchise record in wins with 111, in reality, it didn’t mean a damn thing.
All of Dodgers nation knew some tough decisions were going to be made by Andrew Friedman during the offseason. Sure enough, that’s what happened. Dodgers let some key players and fan favorites walk right out the door. Trea Turner left for Philadelphia, Justin Turner went to Boston, and then after a career year for Tyler Anderson he took the 5 freeway down to Anaheim. Additionally, after being non-tendered, Cody Bellinger signed with the Chicago Cubs. I think it’s safe to say that this team will look a little different this season. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be good. They signed players such as, Noah Syndergaard, J.D. Martinez, David Peralta, Jason Hayward, and traded for Miguel Rojas. They still have a top-five farm system in baseball, as Miguel Vargas, James Outman, and Ryan Pepiot have been named to the Opening Day roster. They still have a top ten lineup with Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and Max Muncy leading the way as well as still having a solid pitching rotation headlined by Julio Urias who is getting the Opening Day start.
It will definitely be a celebratory and emotional evening at Dodger Stadium as he will be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the first time in his career. Urias definitely earned this achievement, as over the last two seasons, he has proved that he has been one of the top pitchers in the sport right now. Unfortunately, he does not get enough credit in the national media and even sometimes within his own organization.
Julio Urias will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and there will be plenty of other teams that are willing to break the bank and show how much they appreciate him. Of course, all Dodger fans including myself, want the front office to pay Urias because he’s fan favorite for the huge Mexican population in the Los Angeles area. Both sides do not seem to be on the same page. Urias just wants to be a regular starting pitcher, he does not want to come out of the bullpen to close games and surely does not want somebody opening for him. In year's past, Julio Urias has been a “guinea pig” for some of these things listed above. On the Dodgers run to their World Series Championship in 2020, Julio Urias came out of the bullpen to close out the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. It even happened the following postseason in 2021, as he helped defeat their hated rival the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS. We have never seen bullpen pitchers open for guys like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, or Walker Buehler.
In my opinion, that’s what makes Urias so frustrated sometimes. He just wants to be seen as the one of the top guys. He dealt with injuries when he first started with the Dodgers when he was only still a teenager and for the first time in 2022, we saw the coaching staff give him more run way rather than having a pitch count or an innings limit like every season prior. This contract situation will be so fascinating to see how it plays out. Now anything that Urias or the front office says about each other moving forward, until the offseason, will be dissected by the fans and the media will try and put the missing pieces together. Oh yeah and it doesn’t help that Scott Boras is the man that represents Julio Urias in all this and we all know how his clients work. Lastly, this shouldn’t take anything away from Thursday night. Julio Urias has earned this start and he’s earned the right to be called “ace”. So let’s all enjoy watching Urias pitch this season because we might not have him for much longer.