The Los Angeles Dodgers have not yet revealed their starting rotation for the 2019 National League Division Series, but manager Dave Roberts announced — or confirmed — the plan remains for Rich Hill to take the ball in a potential Game 4 against the Washington Nationals.
“As far as the rotation, we know who we’ve got lined up. I think we’re going to keep it under wraps a little bit longer,” Roberts said. “Players know. Obviously, the three guys we know: Kershaw, Ryu, Buehler. But I think divulging that right now, there’s not a whole lot of upside.”
Roberts specifically named Hill the Game 4 starter when explaining the Dodgers would have a 12-man pitching staff in the NLDS. His answer was to provide clarity in that the club intends to have an eight-man bullpen.
“We’re comfortable with Rich going four innings. You look at eight guys in the ‘pen, makes sense,” Roberts said.
Although Roberts referred to Hill as the “distinct Game 4 starter,” he additionally left open the possibility of the veteran left-hander making his 2019 postseason debut out of the bullpen.
“We see Rich as a starter, but with that, there’s a situation where I could see him in the ‘pen for Games 1 and 2, if there’s a potential matchup and to essentially use that — or even getting hot as his bullpen — or to come into a game to get an out or two,” Roberts said.
With a possible Game 4 not until Monday, it leaves a scenario where Hill can save his between-starts bullpen day for a relief appearance in Game 1 or 2. That played out with Clayton Kershaw pitching out of the bullpen in the finale of the regular season.
When it appeared Hill was in danger of failing to return in time this year to build back up to a starter’s workload, he expressed a willingness to contribute out of the bullpen during the postseason.
That possibility again surfaced when Hill suffered another MCL strain in the first inning of his return from the 60-day injured list three weeks ago. But the 39-year-old remained determined to pitch in October and took to wearing a knee brace that helped alleviate discomfort.
Hill issued two walks in each of his three starts last month but also had 11 strikeouts and allowed just one hit over 5.2 innings pitched.