Since the middle of April, the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation has not only been the most productive in baseball, but the five pitchers have also remained healthy.
That was until this past week when Rich Hill was forced to leave his outing against the San Francisco Giants and was subsequently placed on the 10-day injured list with a flexor strain in his left forearm.
Hill said he expects to return at some point this season, but he is still going to be shut down from throwing for at least a three weeks. Thus, the Dodgers can’t bank on a return anytime soon.
Luckily, they have options in their bullpen who have experience starting and make for capable replacements for the time being.
While Dodgers manager Dave Roberts would not name who it will be yet, he did suggest Caleb Ferguson, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias are the primary candidates to fill in for Hill, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“It’s going to be somebody from our roster,” Roberts said Saturday. “One of the guys in the bullpen will start.”
Stripling and Urias have gone back and forth between the rotation and bullpen when needed over the last few years. Urias recently received a pre-planned spot start the night after Hill suffered his injury.
It was with the intention to provide the starters with an extra day of rest between turns, though wound up being the second half of a back-to-back bullpen game scenario.
Urias threw three innings and Stripling also threw two innings in that same game, leaving both of them in line to potentially start Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers have made it clear that they plan to limit Urias’ innings this season, so if they are looking for a long-term starter to replace Hill, Stripling is a more logical candidate.
Stripling began this season in the rotation while Hill and Clayton Kershaw were out with injuries, moving to the bullpen when they returned. He also was forced into the rotation due to injuries last year and wound up being named an All-Star after an outstanding first half.
His production fell off in the second half of the season though, so the Dodgers may be wary about making him a starter once again. If that is the case then they could also look to the trade market to add some rotation depth sometime before next month’s deadline.
Ferguson threw 17 pitches in two-thirds of an inning during Saturday’s walk-off win.