A day after a blister burst on his left middle finger, Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill was placed on the 10-day disabled list for the second time this season with issues related to the digit. Hill missed three weeks earlier in the year when he cracked a nail and developed an infection. He will require more time away this time, manager Dave Roberts explained.
"Four weeks is fair," Roberts said before Sunday's series finale against the Nationals. "To get back on a major-league mound, that's fair." He added, "It's going to be quite the process."
Hill placed the Dodgers in a bind on Saturday when he exited the second game of a doubleheader after only two pitches. The rupture was sizable, and Hill equated it to the blister which cost him a significant portion of the 2016 season.
With Hill sidelined yet again, the Dodgers are scrambling once more to set up their starting rotation. Three of the five pitchers from the opening day rotation are on the disabled list, as Hill joined Clayton Kershaw (biceps tendonitis) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (groin strain) on the shelf. Kershaw, at least, is expected to rejoin the Dodgers soon.
Kershaw completed a 30-pitch bullpen session Sunday morning. He was pitching off a mound for the first time since May 1, when the soreness in his arm first surfaced for the training staff. He has been playing catch steadily since being put on the disabled list on May 6, but Sunday represented his most significant step forward.
Roberts described the session as "high intensity." The team plans for Kershaw to throw another bullpen session next week before setting up an appearance in a game. He could require a rehabilitation start, although the team may not want to waste five useful innings from Kershaw at a time when their rotation is spread so thin.
"We just want to leave it open for him, and for us," Roberts said. "Anything is possible."
Walker Buehler will start on Monday against Colorado. The Dodgers will need a spot starter on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Kenta Maeda could receive an extra day of rest and pitch on Wednesday. Brock Stewart, the most likely stopgap option, pitched on May 17 for triple-A Oklahoma City and would be lined up for Tuesday.
"It'll be someone from triple-A who will take the start," Roberts said.