DENVER -- One start into a three-year, $48 million contract and Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill is already on the disabled list.Hill was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Friday (retroactive to Thursday) with a blister on his left middle finger, the same one that sidelined him for five weeks
DENVER -- One start into a three-year, $48 million contract and Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill is already on the disabled list.
Hill was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Friday (retroactive to Thursday) with a blister on his left middle finger, the same one that sidelined him for five weeks last year.
Alex Wood and Thomas Stripling are candidates to make Hill's start in Chicago on Monday, manager Dave Roberts said, depending on bullpen usage in the current series against the Rockies. Julio Urias, scheduled to start on Monday for Triple-A Oklahoma City, is not a candidate to take Hill's start.
The Dodgers recalled reliever Josh Fields to replace Hill on the roster.
Hill, re-signed as a free agent in the offseason, insisted during Spring Training that the blister was no longer an issue.
"All Spring Training everything was great, so for it to pop up was frustrating," said Hill. "It's a precautionary thing. I just don't want it to go south quick."
Roberts downplayed the blister, saying it is "not a big issue," adding that he expects Hill to miss only one start.
Although the blister now appears to be chronic, Hill and Roberts tried to minimize their concern. Last year, Roberts made the stunning decision to remove Hill seven innings into a perfect game in Miami to protect the finger from blistering. Hill said he doesn't believe the blister will always plague him.
"I feel like I'm able to manage it a little smarter; cutting down throws before games and between starts absolutely will help the process," he said. "I like to throw a lot, but it could be detrimental in the end, so I have to put something of a leash on. In the beginning stages of something last year, not realizing where it would end up, if I had known, I would have taken more time last year."
Hill said he noticed the latest blister, on the "pad" of his middle finger, in the bottom of the fifth inning of his winning start against San Diego on Wednesday. Hill was removed after pitching one more inning, and he finished with 75 pitches thrown.
Hill's money pitch, a wicked curveball, is dependent on his ability to snap the ball with that finger. The snap creates the high spin rate needed for sharp break, but also so much friction that his skin blisters and, with continued throws, tears.
Hill was already on the disabled list because of it when the Dodgers acquired him and outfielder Josh Reddick in exchange for three pitching prospects on Aug. 1. He went 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts for the Dodgers after making 14 starts for Oakland.
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Hill has been one of baseball's most dominant arms since returning to the Majors in September 2015, going 15-6 with a 2.00 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and a 10.6 K/9 rate across 25 starts. But due to three DL stints during that span, the southpaw has fallen short of ace status. Hill owners will undoubtedly be frustrated by this early-season injury, but they should avoid selling low on such a talented hurler. Shallow-league managers can cover Hill's absence with a pitcher like Michael Wacha, Francisco Liriano or Alex Cobb. In deep mixed leagues, owners should look to waivers for Brandon Finnegan, Joe Musgrove, Mike Foltynewicz or Eduardo Rodriguez.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.