Let’s check in on the National League’s top-ranked club as the postseason approaches…
- The Dodgers have seemingly avoided an especially negative outcome with left-hander Rich Hill, whose season looked to be in jeopardy when he suffered a strained MCL in his left knee last week. The same type of injury kept Hill out for the first month of the season, but it looks as if he’ll slot back into the Dodgers’ staff in short order this time. The MRI that Hill underwent Monday revealed “nothing structural,” manager Dave Roberts announced to J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group and other reporters, which paved the way for the 39-year-old to throw a bullpen session Tuesday. Now, barring any setbacks, it seems Hill could take a major league mound again as early as this week.
- Regardless of whether Hill reenters their rotation this year, right-hander Ross Stripling will not factor into the Dodgers’ postseason starting mix, per Roberts (via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com). Stripling will instead be part of the Dodgers’ playoff relief corps. The 29-year-old swingman has divided 2019 between LA’s starting and relief staffs, and has notched a sturdy 3.40 ERA/3.71 FIP with 8.72 K/9, 2.02 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent groundball rate across 84 2/3 innings.
- While the latest news on Hill looks encouraging, the same doesn’t apply to outfielder Alex Verdugo. The rookie will officially miss the Dodgers’ National League Division Series matchup, Hoornstra tweets. The hope is Verdugo will be ready to return if the Dodgers advance to the second round of the postseason. Oblique and back injuries have shelved Verdugo since Aug. 4, prematurely ending a solid first season in which the 23-year-old slashed .294/.342/.475 with a dozen home runs and 2.2 fWAR in 377 plate appearances. The Dodgers aren’t exactly hard up for outfield help without Verdugo, of course, as they still boast NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock and Joc Pederson among their main choices.
- Although there had been hope third baseman Justin Turner would make his way back to the Dodgers’ starting lineup Tuesday, that’s not going to happen. Turner did say he’s “getting better every day” as he tries to return from the left ankle sprain that has shelved him since Sept. 7, though (Twitter links via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times and Gurnick). That said, Roberts still isn’t willing to offer a timetable on when Turner could start again. The Dodgers have recently turned to Matt Beaty, Chris Taylor and Jedd Gyorko at third in lieu of Turner, who has once again posted star-caliber numbers this season when healthy.