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The Dodgers Understand the Rich Hill Experience

That experience includes mesmerizing dominance when healthy and, yes, frequent disabled list stints

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

You all know Rich Hill by now.

When I’m a-walkin’ …

… I strut my stuff …

… and I’m so struck out.

Unfortunately, that charming post-strikeout jig comes at the price of the occasional blister. For the second time in eight months, the Dodgers left-hander will head to the DL with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Since 2015, Hill has posted a 203 ERA+, with a 10.6 K/9 ratio, which is comparable to his teammate Clayton Kershaw’s 194 ERA+ and 11.1 K/9 ratio over that time. The catch, of course, is that Hill has thrown only 144.1 innings, part of a career-long struggle with injuries to, well, just about every body part.

Hill, then with the Athletics, missed last June with a groin strain, then after returning for three starts, missed another month and a half with blisters on the same finger. During that second DL stint Oakland traded him to Los Angeles. While any DL stay involving a player with Hill’s history is scary, the Dodgers are framing this as a precautionary measure, and the 10-day DL, new to the game in 2017, allows the Dodgers to shelve Hill and potentially bring him back after missing only one start.

Even if he misses more time than that, the 37-year-old Hill is of greatest value to the Dodgers down the stretch and as the no. 2 starter in a playoff series — and if they’re not in the race down the stretch, a lot more than Hill’s finger will have fallen apart. Last year, the Dodgers gave Oakland three prospects for Hill and Josh Reddick in the midst of Hill’s blister crisis in the hope that Hill would return for the postseason, which he did. And these issues, including his age, are obviously priced into the three-year, $48 million contract he signed this past offseason. In a pitching market where Ivan Nova got three years and $26 million and Charlie Morton got two years and $14 million, the Dodgers were able to lock up Pretty Much Clayton Kershaw When He’s Healthy at a deep discount.

This was always going to be the trade-off.