As October starts to creep around, the Dodgers have many decisions to make in hopes to have the perfect postseason roster.
While the Dodgers’ injured list is filled many questionable returns, the starting rotation is what is on the minds of most people. The return of Rich Hill is arguably the biggest question mark, with many unsure if he’ll be used in the starting rotation or out of the bullpen.
Back in June, Hill was sent to the 10-day Injured List due to a flexor tendon strain that is usually a precursor for Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers were hopeful that it would not be that serious, but it was later announced he would be out until at least August.
Flash forward to the end of August and Hill is still injured. Although, there is still hope, as Manager Dave Roberts is confident that he will be back in time for the postseason. Hill threw a bullpen session on Saturday and is scheduled for one more session before throwing to live batters.
The issue that lies ahead is whether Hill should continue his role as a starter or move into the bullpen as a reliever. Due to his return being so close to the postseason, there is a doubt that he will have his pitch count worked up in order to start.
But the Dodgers’ best chance is that he will return and be that fourth playoff starter. As a veteran, Hill has pitched in the last three postseasons with the Dodgers and has incredible success. He holds an ERA of 2.66 and has 60 strikeouts in 11 postseason games ranging from 2016 to 2018.
Not only is he successful in the postseason, but he has been performing just as well in the regular season. Prior to his injury, he was 4-1 and had an ERA of 2.55. But the issue is not only his performance but that of the two rookies who have been impressing, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.
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May and Gonsolin both shown that they have the potential to join the Dodgers in the postseason but if they teamed up and worked out of the bullpen the results would be much more effective. May struggled in his first relief appearance but should get more opportunities in September.
Gonsolin has an ERA of 2.74 in his five games with the Dodgers, including his start on Saturday vs. the Yankees. In those five games, he has started four times for a total of 23 innings and has 17 strikeouts.
As for May, he also has pitched four games with an ERA of 4.26, three of which were starts. His ERA imploded after a four-run outing out of the bullpen. He has 15 strikeouts and only three walks in 19 innings. May will start on Monday against the Padres before returning to the bullpen on the coming road trip.
The ideal situation would be if Hill, and the other three starters, were backed up by May and Gonsolin out of the bullpen. If the two of them were held to a minimum amount of innings they would be able to showcase their power stuff much more effectively. May and Gonsolin could give the Dodgers a couple of innings out of the bullpen too.
Whether or not the Dodgers make Hill their fourth playoff starter, they will surely have a lot of options as to who will take the spot in the rotation and hopefully they will lead us to a World Series title.