After a 48-pitch simulated game, Rich Hill is now off to one or two rehabilitation starts, rather than re-joining the Dodgers’ starting rotation. The Dodgers still have that six-man rotation, with Brandon McCarthy getting yesterday’s start, with Hyun-Jin Ryu going today, and Clayton Kershaw tomorrow in what had been penciled in, as least according to ESPN, to be Hill’s return start in Los Angeles.
Manager Dave Roberts says the six-man starting staff will continue for several more days, but that the plan is to go back to five. That means Alex Wood’s exit to ether the pen or Oklahoma City, and the another demotion to be named. Kenta Maeda made a great move forward Friday to keep his spot, and with Kershaw, Urias and McCarthy likely
immoveable, the pressure is now again on Ryu to show that he belongs where he is. He goes today against Philadelphia and his slot would come up again next against San Diego, but Thursday’s off day could knock that out, as it would put the other starters at six days rest. Hard to imagine Kershaw to be happy with that. Of course, any rotation that includes Hill will be a man short ofter one or at most two Hill starts. Whoever is demoted to make room for him will only have a short wait to be brought back.
A couple of days ago I also wrote that Cody Bellringer looked overmatched and that upon the return of Franklin Gutierrez or Joc Pederson that he would be heading back to Triple-A, as least for a few weeks. Well, all Bellinger has done since then is go four-for-seven, including hitting two home runs yesterday. He’s raised his average in two days from .100 to .294, but more importantly he did not strike out in those two games. Is Bellinger here to stay?
Just maybe, even though Gutierrez is tentatively scheduled to return Thursday and Pederson next weekend. With that, Joc should be back in center virtually every game, and likely Gutierrez would platoon with Bellinger in left, but what then of Andrew Toles, whose had a hot streak his own, going four for his last 11, raising his average 28 points. Does Toles begin platooning with Yasiel Puig in right? Puig missed his first game of the season Friday night, sitting out against Jerad Eickhoff with Kike Hernandez playing in his stead in right.
Perhaps the larger questions are just who do the Dodgers send down or otherwise remove from the roster when these two, and also Logan Forsythe (who also is likely to be ready to return next weekend) are activated? Doesn’t seem like Bellinger is at risk now, but despite Chris Taylor playing so well now he is the most likely candidate for one spot, but the other two would almost have to come from the pitching staff. That hopefully would mean the end of Chris Hatcher, and also most likely a demotion for Ross Stripling, unless someone
else goes to the DL. Would they consider cutting (or sending to the disabled list) Sergio Romo, who has been so disappointing but who still has a distinguished career record that indicates the likelihood of a return to form?
Some tough decisions need to be made, and pretty soon.
After yesterday’s ninth-inning heroics, the Dodgers face Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta who is making his major league debut today. Corey Seager is getting the day off with Hernandez, who is so much better defensively in the infield than in the outfield, taking his place. The 0-4 Ryu last faced the Phillies just over three years ago, on April 22, 2014, but does have a career 2.77 ERA against them. Of course the current Phillies team, at .500, is much improved over the 2014 Phillies that finished last in the NL East.