Posted on September 25, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Dodgers have once again been forced to bump pitcher Rich Hill from a scheduled start due to issues with a blister on his finger. Hill is being scratched from his start Sunday against the Colorado Rockies because of concern over his blister. Brandon McCarthy will start Sunday in Hill’s place. McCarthy is making his first since August 13 after going to the DL with a hip injury.
Hill has been plagued by blister issues all season, and didn’t even make his Dodgers debut until more than three weeks after he was traded to Los Angeles at the trade deadline while he waited for a blister to heal. He was even removed from his start on September 10 after seven innings due to concerns that a blister could develop on his finger, despite the fact that he was carrying a perfect game. The Dodgers are doing the same thing now as they did then, which is valuing the team’s postseason chances over everything else.
“We’ve put ourselves in the position that we have the flexibility, or luxury, to do this,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “With the blister and how we’ve had to manage it since the trade, I think this gives him the best chance going forward to go deeper in a game.”
Hill is expected to pitch next weekend against the San Francisco Giants during the final series of the regular season. That should allow Hill one more start to be healthy and sharp heading into the postseason, when the Dodgers will be relying on him to be an important part of their playoff success.
Despite being plagued by issues with blisters all season, Hill is having an outstanding year and has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. If not for missing so many starts and switching leagues in early August, he would certainly be a frontrunner for the Cy Young Award. In his five starts since coming to the Dodgers, Hill has posted a 1.53 ERA. On the season, he has a 2.05 ERA across 19 starts.
Fortunately, an inordinate amount of injures throughout the season has forced the Dodgers to build up considerable depth in their rotation, especially now that ace Clayton Kershaw has returned from a back injury and McCarthy is returning as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Scott Kazmir will be available to pitch the final week of the regular season or in the playoffs after leaving Friday’s start with intercostal spasms. However, if the Dodgers can keep Kershaw and Hill healthy, they should have a formidable postseason rotation.
Heading into Sunday, the Dodgers have a magic number of one to clinch the NL West, meaning a win against the Rockies on Sunday would officially book their ticket for the playoffs. Hill will be unable to pitch the clinching game on Sunday, but if he can avoid a recurrence of the blisters that have plagued him all year, he should be ready to pitch in the postseason, which is when the Dodgers will need him to be healthy and at his best.