The Los Angeles Dodgers caught a tough break on Thursday as Rich Hill left his start against the Baltimore Orioles with a strained MCL in his left knee after managing to record just two outs in the first inning.
Hill hadn’t pitched since June after missing an extended period of time with a forearm injury, but was believed to be healthy going into his return against the Orioles. The plan was for Hill to have four regular-season outings to build up his stamina to be the Dodgers’ fourth starter in the postseason.
This injury obviously complicates things as Hill will no longer have that time to get built up. At minimum, he will not make a next turn in the rotation.
What’s beyond that is unclear, as Hill won’t undergo an MRI on his knee until the Dodgers return from their road trip next week, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Rich Hill said he will have an MRI on his knee on Monday in LA.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 13, 2019
If there’s any sort of optimism to be had for the time being, Hill did say the discomfort he’s experiencing now isn’t at the level when he suffered the same injury late in Spring Training. That forced him to begin the season on the 10-day injured list.
In 11 starts this season, Hill is 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA, 4.29 FIP and 1.14 WHIP with 63 strikeouts and 14 walks in 53.2 innings. The previous knee injury delayed his 2019 debut until April 28.
The latest trouble likely removes Hill from consideration as a fourth starter in the postseason. Other candidates the Dodgers will continue to evaluate include Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias and Ross Stripling.
Whoever isn’t a starter in the postseason may sill make the roster as a reliever to aid the bullpen. While likely losing Hill is not ideal, the Dodgers still have pitching depth in place and were prepared for any scenario.