There was already speculation that Rich Hill would be used as a reliever when he returns from the injured list, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it today, telling reporters (including The Athletic’s Pedro Moura) that there isn’t enough time left in the season for Hill to properly prepare for a starter’s workload. A flexor tendon strain has sidelined Hill since June 20, and while he is making progress in his rehab, it seems like he is still some weeks away from getting back on a big league mound.
In terms of the postseason rotation, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw is an awfully enviable top three, though as Moura notes, the battle for the fourth starter’s job is up for grabs. Kenta Maeda, Dustin May, Julio Urias, and Tony Gonsolin are all candidates, or Moura says the club could pick more than one of these arms in “a piggy-back combination.” With a big lead in the NL West, L.A. has plenty of time to experiment for the remainder of the regular season.
Here’s more from both the NL and AL West…
- Mariners outfielders Mitch Haniger and Braden Bishop are both set to begin rehab assignments at Class-A Modesto on Tuesday, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. Both players have been out of action for almost two months due to frightening injuries — Haniger underwent surgery to fix a ruptured testicle, while Bishop suffered a lacerated spleen just prior to his call-up to the big leagues in early June. In other Mariners injury news, Felix Hernandez will make a rehab start for Seattle’s Class-A affiliate in Everett this week. Johns figures after that outing, Hernandez will still need to put in a rehab outing at Triple-A (which would be the veteran right-hander’s fourth rehab start overall) “before there’ll be any consideration of rejoining the Mariners.”
- The Astros are close to adding Francis Martes back to their 40-man roster, the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome writes. The right-hander was issued an 80-game PED suspension back in March, and his stint on the restricted list was extended due to a visa issue that has now been resolved. Martes still isn’t any closer to pitching, however, since he underwent Tommy John surgery almost exactly one year ago and won’t be ready until Spring Training. Martes posted a 5.80 ERA over 54 1/3 innings for the Astros in 2017, which marked his only Major League appearance. Martes was a consensus top-30 prospect prior to the 2017 campaign, though even before his TJ surgery and suspension, his stock had already begun to drop due to shaky Triple-A numbers in 2017 and 2018.
- Pablo Sandoval has loose bodies in his elbow that could require offseason surgery to correct, Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman and other reporters. For now, Sandoval is being rested as he deals with elbow inflammation. If Sandoval does go under the knife, such surgeries are usually relatively minor procedures, though any sort of injury red flag is of note for a pending free agent, especially given how the market has been so unfriendly to veteran corner-infield types like Sandoval in recent years. The Panda celebrated his 33rd birthday on Sunday, and the longtime Giants fan favorite is enjoying his best season in years, hitting .269/.314/.509 over 295 PA as a part-time player in San Francisco.