Posted on May 20, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The blister issues that have plagued Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill for much of his career are back. The Dodgers placed the lefty on the 10-day DL on Sunday. It’s the second time this season Hill has gone to the DL because of blister issues. The move comes one day after Hill lasted just two pitches in his start against the Nationals. This time, Hill is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks.
Hill said he realized he had a problem on Saturday when something “broke open” during his second-to-last warmup pitch before the first inning. He knew the issues would force him to leave the game early at some point. But he wanted to gut it out as much as possible. As it turns out, he lasted just two pitches, forcing the Dodgers to use seven relief pitchers on their way to beating the Nationals.
“It’s frustrating as anything for me. To go out there and put the bullpen and team in this position,” Hill said afterward. “Unfortunately, I don’t have answers at this time for the blister issue.”
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Hill has managed to make six starts this season. However, he has thrown just 24.2 innings in those starts. The southpaw has also struggled with his control and been knocked around a couple times. As a result, he has an ERA of 6.20 and WHIP of 1.74. Needless to say, it’s been a discouraging start to the season for both Hill and the Dodgers, who began Sunday seven games under .500 and fourth place in the NL West.
“Rich is frustrated, as we all are,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday. “This is as bad as I’ve seen it since he’s been here. I don’t know what the timeline is. We have to make sure it’s right and can sustain itself before we get him back.”
On Sunday, Roberts told reporters Hill would be out at least four weeks. The hope is that an extended absence will give the 38-year old enough time to fully heal from the ruptured blister and put the issue behind him. Last season, Hill spent a month on the DL early in the year because of a blister. But when he returned, he managed to stay healthy, make 25 starts, and help the Dodgers reach the World Series.
The biggest difference this season is that the Dodgers are playing catch up in the NL West rather than trying to retain a lead. Also, Hill is joining fellow lefties Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the DL. Kershaw has missed the last two weeks and is still not ready to pitch in a game, even at the minor league level. Ryu, meanwhile, is expected to be out until at least the all-star break.
The loss of Hill and the uncertainty over Kershaw has left the Dodgers struggling to fill out the back-end of their rotation behind Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda. The team’s contingent of position players has started to return to full health. But with three of their best starting pitchers on the DL, the road back in the NL West figures to be a long one.