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.