The Los Angeles Dodgers have overcome a lot of obstacles this season to catch the San Francisco Giants in the NL West standings. Could a “blister from hell” actually be the one obstacle they can’t overcome?
If you’re been following the Dodgers situation closely over the last three weeks, then you’re very aware of Rich Hill’s on-going blister issues.
Hill, whom the Dodgers acquired at the trade deadline along with Josh Reddick from the Oakland A’s, has not pitched in a major-league game since July 17. Based on information relayed by manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday, there’s still no timetable for his Dodgers’ debut, meaning the team will have to continue mixing and matching.
“After Rich threw yesterday, we feel it’s prudent to take more time,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Philadelphia. “We don’t have a date when Rich is going to pitch for us. Rich is doing everything he possibly can, but there’s only so much he can do.”
The team originally expected Hill to debut last Sunday against the Boston Red Sox. When that was ruled out, they looked at this Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now Roberts has indicated he won’t be a consideration for that start or the entire weekend series, Hill’s overall time missed is likely to surpass four weeks.
Obviously, the Dodgers completed the trade assuming the blister issue would run its course in short order. If you’ve ever dealt with a blister issue though, then you know it’s not always that simple. They can disappear in a matter of days, or they can wreak havoc if not treated properly. The problem is not everyone heals the same way or responds similarly to the many varying methods of treatment.
Blisters are certainly not new to pitchers. They all deal with them at one time or another, and they’ve all attempted to figure out which treatment works best to not only treat blisters, but more importantly to prevent them. Rarely have we seen an issue linger or reoccur to this extent though, which is turning into an annoyance for the Dodgers as big as the blister itself.
Now the question is two-fold: Will Rich Hill even get over the blister hump? If so, will the Dodgers get enough from him this season to make parting with three pitching prospects worthwhile?
Some of that will hinge on Reddick, who so far is 4-for-30 with no extra-base hits or RBIs for Los Angeles. Some will also depend of the prospects involved. Los Angeles parted with highly-regarded right-hander Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes, along with Jharel Cotton, who came up one batter short of pitching a perfect in his debut for Oakland’s Triple-A Nashville team on Wednesday.
Hill represents the Dodgers biggest need right now though with Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu, Bud Norris and a host of other pitchers ailing. Given that other comparable and healthier options were available, perhaps they took too much of a risk banking on Hill. On the upside, it wouldn’t take much for Hill to endear himself. Assuming he does get healthy and stays that way through October, he could easily play a huge role in how far the Dodgers go.
If that’s the Rich Hill they ultimately get, it’ll be worth it. If not, well, let the questioning begin again in Los Angeles.
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