Outside of Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler, it seems almost every Dodgers pitcher could find himself in the bullpen in the postseason.
Rich Hill included.
The veteran left-hander has been out since June 19 with a left forearm strain that landed him on the 60-day injured list. He wants to be healthy enough by October to return to the starting rotation. But the idea of being a reliever in the playoffs has grown on him too.
“Any way to help,” he said. “Ideally starting. But it all depends on how this is going to play out.”
With the regular season dwindling, Hill’s rehab is becoming a race against the calendar. He is still about three weeks from throwing bullpen sessions. By the time he would ready for a routine rehab assignment in early to mid-September, the minor league season will be winding down, if not over.
He’ll be put through live batting practice, simulated games and perhaps late-September games. But, Hill acknowledged, building up enough stamina to pitch four innings in a game — likely a requisite to start in the postseason — will force him to push his recovery, which he said is a little ahead of schedule but still far from complete.
Manager Dave Roberts said the team will see how healthy Hill is near the end of September before making a final assessment on his role in the playoffs. Of Hill’s 12 career postseason appearances, in which he has a 3.04 ERA, he came out of the bullpen only once, tossing the final inning of Los Angeles’ Game 6 NLCS loss last year.
Hill, 39, has a 2.55 ERA in 10 starts this year, the final of his contract.
“He just wants to come back and contribute,” Roberts said. “With what he’s done for us in postseasons in years past, you know he can be a big-time contributor.”
Verdugo, Pollock held out
Alex Verdugo was scratched from Monday’s lineup against St. Louis because of back tightness. Verdugo was slated to start in center field, but his back “didn’t loosen up the way we wanted it to,” according to Roberts.
Back tightness has been a nagging issue for Verdugo. The rookie, who is hitting .294 with an .817 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, hasn’t landed on the injured list this year but has been given the occasional day off. Roberts didn’t expect this flare-up to lead to the injured list either.
“I definitely don’t think it’s severe,” Roberts said. “Where we’re at, to think about putting him in jeopardy at all, to make it a longer issue, we’re just trying to guard against that.”
A.J. Pollock also was absent from Monday’s lineup as he continues to nurse a minor groin issue. Pollock strained his groin Thursday, didn’t play Friday or Saturday, then recorded two hits and two RBIs in Sunday’s win over San Diego. Pollock will be reevaluated before Tuesday’s game.
Ruiz breaks finger
Dodgers catching prospect Keibert Ruiz suffered a broken finger that likely will end his season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Ruiz, the No. 3 prospect in the Dodgers farm system according to MLB.com, was placed on the seven-day injured list in triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday. The 21-year-old from Venezuela, who signed with the Dodgers in July 2014, started the season at double-A Tulsa, where he spent all of last year. He was promoted to Oklahoma City on July 21. During his four seasons in the minors, he has hit .299 with a .772 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and 29 home runs.