Ryu set for return to rotation for Saturday start

Hill to make another rehab start before rejoining roster

April 18th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- Hyun-Jin Ryu will be activated to start for the Dodgers on Saturday night, and Rich Hill will make one more Minor League rehab start before he rejoins the big-league rotation, manager Dave Roberts said on Thursday.

Ryu, who suffered a mild left groin strain in an April 8 start in St. Louis, threw a light bullpen session on Thursday. Roberts said Ryu needs no further time to heal, and management is concerned that a further delay might affect his sharpness. Ryu threw a 44-pitch bullpen session on Monday, but he made no rehab starts.

“There’s a balance between getting him in there sharp versus staying away to where he gets rusty,” said Roberts. “I expect him to be [available for] 90-100 [pitches].”

Hill, however, made a rehab start on Wednesday, pitching four scoreless innings, using 51 pitches and notching eight strikeouts in a game for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. It was his first game action since straining his left knee in a March 17 Spring Training game.

“It’s very encouraging for Rich to feel that he’s ready to go and help us,” said Roberts. “But when you’re talking about five [innings] and 75 [pitches] if all goes well, we’ve got our bullpen back in line right now [after three lengthy starts]. Things unforeseen happen. To have him not build up to 90, the way guys are throwing, there’s a little bit of risk. To build him up with another start is probably best for the Dodgers.”

Based on the sharpness of his pitches and how he came out of Wednesday’s game, Hill said he’d rather rejoin the Dodgers now. But Roberts said management wants Hill to build his pitch count closer to the 90 mark he will need for a Major League game. Hill will probably make his second rehab start on Monday, but the location has not been determined.

“It’s out of my control,” Hill said of the decision. “Ideally, I’d like to get back now. it’s more to check a box. From the club’s standpoint, yes, I understand it. I feel great and I’m excited to get back as soon as possible.”

With Ryu starting on Saturday, Clayton Kershaw has been pushed back one day to start the series finale in Milwaukee. Kenta Maeda, Sunday’s scheduled starter, will probably be pushed back to start the series opener at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, but probables for that series have not been announced.

When Ryu returns, Thursday night starter Julio Urias will be sent to the bullpen to be a multiple-innings reliever, a strategy designed to limit his innings for possible starts later in the season.

“That’s been our plan all along,” Roberts said. “If all goes as expected.”

When Hill returns, Ross Stripling is expected to leave the rotation and join Urias in the bullpen.