On Thursday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, the benches cleared in the fifth inning. And as it is most of the time, it was over both something and nothing. In the fifth inning, Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley threw a 93 mph pitch to Dodgers starter Rich Hill. Hill was bunting, and the pitch caught the bat up near his hands. Without the bat there, it would have hit Hill.
The ball was caught for an out, but Hill yelled at Bradley after he’d touched first. Bradley yelled back, and then everyone was out of the dugout yelling about it. Hill definitely could have been hurt, but Bradley didn’t mean for the pitch to break that way, so there was no intent. So it was about something and nothing.
You can watch the Dodgers and Diamondbacks face each other in Yahoo Sports’ MLB Free Game of the Day, and hopefully it’s a game without any beach clearing or near-injuries. You can stream the game on the Yahoo Sports app, Yahoo’s Sports Home, MLB index, video home and this very post. Local blackouts apply, per MLB rules. First pitch is at 9:40 p.m. ET.
Thankfully, Hill wasn’t hurt, and neither was anyone else when the benches cleared. But that left the Dodgers with a scary question to contemplate: what would happen if they lost Rich Hill? Hill has been nothing short of brilliant for the Dodgers since they got him in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. In four games and 24.1 innings, Hill has a 1.48 ERA (though Thursday night’s 7-4 loss wasn’t one of his better starts).
Here’s the Dodgers’ rotation now: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias and Jose De Leon. The Dodgers list Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart at six and seven on their depth chart, and there’s at least one attractive option in there: Stripling. He’s been up and down for the Dodgers this season, being sent down when a pitcher comes back from the DL, and getting recalled when another pitcher gets hurt. He’s started 14 games this season, and carries a 4.20 ERA overall. He’s pitched from the bullpen a few times, and has done it (mostly) well.
Stripling being sort of like a Swiss Army Knife for the Dodgers could not be more important. Clayton Kershaw is still ramping back up after a long stay on the disabled list, and with a back injury there are no guarantees: he could have issues getting back to where he was before the injury, and he could even re-injure himself. Plus, with Julio Urias reaching his innings limit soon, and veteran Bud Norris pitching horribly since coming off the disabled list (11.08 ERA in five apperances), they’ll need Stripling.
Of course, the ideal situation for the Dodgers is for all their starters to be healthy and productive. But the playoffs are like skydiving: you’ve got your main parachute, but you never jump without a backup. It may not be perfect, but the Dodgers definitely have a backup parachute.
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