Coming into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were counting on Rich Hill to give them solid starts in the starting rotation. On Sunday afternoon in the Dodgers 3-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hill’s blister flared up, and he lasted only three innings because of it.
The Dodgers, especially Manager Dave Roberts, are baffled by Hill’s latest blister setback. This is the second time in a matter of weeks Hill’s finger has blistered, causing him to miss time. It also caused him to come out of his first start of the season against the San Diego Padres in which he went five innings. Hill has had career problems with blisters and was put on the 10 day DL for the second time this season which wasn’t a surprise.
When Hill was placed on the DL for the first time this season, he missed two starts, but according to Roberts, Hill’s latest trip to the DL will likely be longer than the previous one. What’s also frustrating is rest hasn’t helped Hill with his blister issue, as he was shut down in the offseason and the blister wasn’t a problem until his first start of the season against the San Diego Padres.
The blister is on Hill’s middle finger on his pitching hand that is key for his curveball to be effective. Despite knowing about Hill’s career struggles with blisters, the Dodgers opened up their checkbook this past offseason, re-signing him to a three-year deal worth $48 million. According to Roberts, Hill is also open to coming out of the bullpen which ultimately is what’s going to happen. Moving Hill to the bullpen would make sense for the Dodgers because just hoping that Hill can hold up for at least six innings is a tough chore. In eight innings pitched this season, Hill is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
The Dodgers have dealt with a similar situation before regarding a veteran pitcher with a well known injury. In 2006, they signed Jason Schmidt to a three-year, $47 million deal, knowing he had a torn rotator cuff when he was signed. The situations are similar because the Dodgers also bet on Schmidt to be effective just like they’re betting on Hill to do the same.
Schmidt was far from effective, totalling three wins in three seasons in a Dodgers uniform. With Hill back on the DL, it’s a blow to the Dodgers as they expected Hill to pitch very well like he did last season when he was healthy. The frustrating part for both sides is they haven’t found a cure to stop the blister from flaring up
Rob Segedin, an utility infielder and outfielder, has taken Hill’s spot on the roster. Roberts said Alex Wood will be the guy to take Hill’s spot in the starting rotation. Wood has 78 career starts to his credit which is why the Dodgers acquired him in the first place for depth. Wood has appeared in three games this season, two of those appearances were in relief and one as a starter. Wood has faced 38 batters in 9.0 innings pitched and has a 1.00 ERA.