Athletics lefty Rich Hill is doubtful to make a start on Sunday, the next open day in Oakland’s rotation, manager Bob Melvin told reporters including MLB.com’s Jane Lee (Twitter link). Hill left his most recent start after only five pitches when a blister on his left middle finger popped.
It seems that the ill-timed blister is still not responding well enough to get Hill back on the bump. Oakland now has a razor-thin margin for error in getting the southpaw back in action before the trade deadline. While it’s theoretically possible that he could be traded without making another start, there’s little question that it would seriously hamper his value — particularly given the 36-year-old’s lack of a big league track record.
Hill is already a highly unconventional trade candidate, having resuscitated his career late last season. He has been nothing short of masterful, though, since signing with the A’s over the winter, and carries a 2.25 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 76 frames on the year.
Oakland surely felt it had dodged a bullet when Hill made it back from an earlier groin issue without any ill effects. In his first two starts of this month, he delivered 12 innings over which he permitted just three earned runs on seven hits and four walks, striking out 16 along the way. Excepting that most recent, truncated outing, however, he has now gone two weeks without pitching.
MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently examined the potential market for Hill’s services, discussing the impact of the blister — which now seems only to be rising in relevance. As the list of potentially available starters shows, there’s a significant dearth of pure rental rotation additions out there for the taking. But at this point, Hill won’t be able to log two more starts unless he’s able to make an appearance early next week. Odds are, it seems, the A’s will be banking quite a bit on a single remaining outing before accepting final bids on the unique lefty.