Posted on June 20, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Dodgers witnessed a familiar sight on Wednesday night. It was the sight of starter Rich Hill walking off the mound with an injury. Hill left Wednesday’s start after just one inning because of discomfort in his forearm. The lefty will undergo an MRI on Thursday, but regardless of the results, the Dodgers are expected to place Hill on the 10-day Injured List.
The 39-year-old Hill admits that his forearm has felt a little tight in recent weeks. However, he hasn’t felt anything while pitching until throwing a curveball in the 1st inning of Wednesday’s game against the Giants. He completed the inning, but after feeling something while throwing his warmup pitches the following inning, Hill stopped and was removed from the game.
“The third warmup pitch everything tightened up and I didn’t feel it would be a wise move to keep going,” Hill explained after the game. “I felt it was something more severe than something I can pitch through. Just knowing your body and being smart, as opposed to having something that could be disastrous for the rest of the year.”
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Despite the obvious concern, Hill is confident that Thursday’s MRI will only indicate a minor issue. With 12 previous trips to the injured list, Hill knows his body well. He also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and knows what a torn ligament in his elbow feels like. He’s confident that’s not the case this time.
“I’m pretty confident the MRI will show something, but not in the concerning category of missing a tremendous amount of time,” Hill said. “Time away, get it right and come back and get back to pitching. … I’m pretty confident that it is more of a strain situation.”
Of course, even if it’s a minor injury, losing Hill to the IL is still a significant setback for the Dodgers. Since returning from a knee injury in late April, Hill is 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA over his first 10 starts of the season. Even in his late 30s, he’s proving to be one of the more reliable starters in baseball. He’s an important part of the Los Angeles rotation that is one of the biggest reason the Dodgers are 50-25 and have a 10-game lead in the NL West.
With Hill sidelined for the time being, the Dodgers still have frontline starters like Hyun-jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw to lead the way. However, there is still a vacancy to fill in the Los Angeles rotation. Julio Urias is scheduled to make a spot start on Thursday to help give the other Dodger starters an extra day of rest. He may have a chance to take over Hill’s spot in the rotation after that. Ross Stripling, who is expected to follow Urias on Thursday, is also an option.
Both Urias and Stripling have experience starting in the majors and have been effective this season. However, both have been important figures in a Los Angeles bullpen that’s been lacking in depth this season. The Dodgers are expected to upgrade their bullpen before the trade deadline, but depending on the extent of Hill’s injury, they may need to prioritize their rotation instead.
For now, the Dodgers can only wait and hope for the best. Obviously, they are accustomed to getting by without the injury-plagued Hill. But the lefty is an important part of their rotation and a key to their success the rest of the season. If he ends up missing a significant chunk of the season, it could change the team’s outlook moving forward.