Dodgers’ left-hander Rich Hill is scheduled to rejoin the rotation on Tuesday, manager Dave Roberts announced on Friday. What happens after Tuesday hinges entirely on Hill’s performance — specifically, whether he can continue to build on his strong start to the season and do so without re-aggravating the blister on his pitching hand. If all goes well, the southpaw is likely to stick in the rotation for the foreseeable future; if not, Roberts suggested that Hill might find himself in the bullpen.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the 37-year-old, who allowed four runs in 2/3 innings during a rehab start in High-A Rancho Cucamonga last week. He recovered with a much more impressive outing on Wednesday, tossing five scoreless innings with three walks and three strikeouts. While he’s already gone on the 10-day disabled list twice this season due to persistent blister issues, he appears to have made a full recovery at this point in the season. Given the lefty’s tumultuous history, however, that’s not saying much. It’ll take more than one start to prove he’s regained both his health and his effectiveness on a long-term basis.
Should things go south on Tuesday, the Dodgers could revisit the idea of transferring Hill to a bullpen role. There’s no word yet on whether the transition would be temporary or permanent, but as Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register remarked last month, it could help the club manage Hill’s blister issues better. The lefty hasn’t pitched in relief since 2014, when he split the season between the Angels’ and Yankees’ bullpens, and currently carries a career 4.38 ERA and 1.86 SO/BB rate over 86 1/3 innings as a reliever.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”