The Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation suffered a major blow last month when Rich Hill was removed from his June 19 start with forearm discomfort. An MRI later confirmed that the 39-year-old had suffered a flexor strain — an injury that will keep him sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Hill was immediately placed on the 10-day injured list and shut down from throwing. Despite the unfortunate turn of events, the left-hander dodged a bullet as tests showed that his UCL remained in good health.
Now a full month into his lengthy recovery, Hill continues making excellent progress toward a potential return to the mound this season. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expected as much, citing the southpaw’s work ethic and determination.
Last week, Hill began playing catch for the first time since the injury — meeting the initial expectation that he would be able to do so three or four weeks from that point.
“So I think that what I understand if all goes well then sometime early September he’ll be back, is a possibility.” Roberts said. “But that can obviously, depending on how it goes, that can be pushed back a little bit. But he’s starting to throw, which is a good thing.”
That he hasn’t suffered any setbacks to this point and recently increased his activity are certainly good signs in regards to a possible return in September.
Taking Hill’s spot in the starting rotation for the time being is Ross Stripling. The swingman has been solid in the second half, but hasn’t logged more than five innings in any of his five starts since transitioning from the bullpen to fill Hill’s void.
While the Dodgers have more than enough depth to withstand Hill’s absence, the club could hypothetically look to acquire another starting pitcher at the July 31 trade deadline as insurance in case he isn’t able to return this season. L.A. has been linked to Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd thus far.
Hill compiled a 4-1 record, 2.55 ERA, 4.15 FIP and 1.11 WHIP with 61 strikeouts against 12 walks in 53 innings pitched before landing on the IL (10 starts).
The flexor tendon issue is the second injury he’s dealt with this year; Hill began the season on the 10-day injured list because of an MCL strain in his left knee, delaying his 2019 debut to April 28.