Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts conceded on Sunday that Rich Hill is unlikely to be a starter in the postseason with time running out.
After the Dodgers finished off a drubbing of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, Dave Roberts conceded that Rich Hill is unlikely to make it back as a starter in the postseason. Hill is currently working his way back from a flexor tendon strain and is unlikely to return before the middle of September.
With the minor league season over by then and not enough time for him to work up his pitch count, that makes it nearly impossible for Hill to work his way into starter shape before the postseason. That is a big loss for the Dodgers although Hill could still become a big help out of the bullpen.
Hill’s big league career dates back to 2005 and he has spent time as a reliever with 87 1/3 innings under his belt as a reliever. Although his 4.33 ERA is not anything great, it’s important to remember that Rich’s career did not take off until he found his curveball later on in his career. His velocity could elevate out of the bullpen and he has the stuff to be effective against right-handed and left-handed batters.
Since the Dodgers were unable to acquire an elite reliever at the trade deadline, Hill could become a nice option out of the bullpen for LA. Hill would likely take a playoff roster spot from pitchers like Casey Sadler and J.T. Chargois who are on the bubble in terms of making the playoff roster. All Hill needs to do is make it back and show he can be effective out of the bullpen.
The news is bad news for the Dodgers as Rich Hill has been one of the club’s most consistent starters in the postseason over their last two World Series runs. In 2017, Hill had a 2.55 ERA in the postseason and last year he pitched to a 2.16 ERA. While the Dodgers have a young talented pitcher like Dustin May who could fill in, there is no telling how he will perform in the postseason.
As we witnessed last season, Walker Buehler’s first playoff start in Atlanta was a disaster although he did pitch extremely well after his initial playoff start. Dustin May is currently the favorite to take the fourth playoff rotation spot and his next start is on Wednesday against the Marlins.
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May has been solid across two starts so far and will continue competing for the fourth rotation spot in the postseason. The only that could stop Dustin May is his innings count. Dustin has not pitched more than 134 innings in a season and already has 118 innings this season between the minor leagues and his two MLB starts.
Ross Stripling could also be a candidate for the fourth playoff rotation spot if he gets healthy soon. Stripling has been dealing with a neck and biceps issue and appears to be at least a couple of weeks away from returning. Chicken Strip doesn’t have power stuff so he would be a better candidate to start then come out of the bullpen.
Kenta Maeda is another possible candidate although he seems to be headed toward another postseason in the bullpen given his ability to pitch in relief. Maeda has pitched well in the past as a reliever and would help the Dodgers more out of the bullpen. Tony Gonsolin is another talented young pitching prospect who could work his way into the playoff roster conversation.
With the NL West all but locked up, the Dodgers now turn their sights towards home field advantage and sorting out their postseason roster. While the Dodgers have Dustin May as a potential replacement for Hill, the veteran’s absence from the playoff rotation is at least a little concerning.