Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his left knee Monday in Los Angeles after his start Thursday was cut short due to injury. He will also meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache to determine the best course of action.
Although Hill had not gone through any tests as of Friday, he and the Dodgers believe the injury is related to the medial collateral ligament in his knee. Hill sprained that ligament pitching in a spring training game in March. He began the season on the injured list and didn’t make his debut until April 28. Thursday was his first outing since going on the injured list June 20 with a left forearm strain.
“I felt like I was on the right track to contributing,” said Hill, who has pitched 53 2/3 innings in 11 starts. “Hopefully we can get this right and come back.”
This episode is considered less severe based on symptoms. The calendar, however, does not give much leeway for missed time. The 39-year-old Hill was originally scheduled to log two innings Thursday and make three more starts, increasing his workload with each appearance. If he proceeded without a hitch, he likely would have been the Dodgers’ fourth starter in the postseason. The knee injury complicates matters.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, however, insisted the club does not yet have to make alternate plans for the final spot in the playoff rotation. Roberts theorized Hill could return in time to build enough arm strength for an abbreviated start in the postseason — perhaps three innings. The Dodgers could then piggyback him with one or two converted starters to assume the rest of the load.
The list of options to assume that bulk role includes Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May. Stripling and Gonsolin appear to be the likelier options to be used in combination with Hill or to replace him if necessary because they’re slated to start next week. Stripling is scheduled to start Tuesday. Gonsolin, who logged three innings Thursday, will take Hill’s place in the rotation and start Wednesday. Meanwhile, Maeda, Urias and May will continue transitioning to more traditional relief roles.
“I think if you look at the potential roster construction of the relievers, a lot of our guys have that ability to go multiples,” Roberts said. “There’s nothing that says you have to name a Game 4 starter in the middle of September. So however we get there or get through a potential Game 4, I think we’ll have the means, the arms to do it.”