Rich Hill should return to the Boston Red Sox rotation next week
The Boston Red Sox should be getting some reinforcements for their starting rotation soon. According to Julian McWilliams of The Boston Globe, Rich Hill is expected to be activated from the injured list to pitch on Tuesday in Houston.
Hill has been sidelined since suffering a left knee sprain during a game in Chicago on July 1. He made a rehab start yesterday with Double-A Portland, allowing only one earned run on four hits over three innings. He struck out five without allowing a walk.
It appears the Red Sox are content with those results and plan to have him make his next appearance in the big leagues. Hill rarely lasts longer than five innings at this stage of his career so it won’t be a significant leap from his one rehab start to his regular workload.
While the Red Sox haven’t confirmed that Hill will return as a starter, their injury-ravaged rotation could certainly use him. Boston has leaned heavily on four rookie starters this month while nearly their entire rotation has spent time on the injured list. Top pitching prospect Brayan Bello has enticing upside but clearly wasn’t ready for the majors and will benefit from returning to Triple-A where he can polish his skills. Josh Winckowski, Connor Seabold and Kutter Crawford have had mixed results, flashing some potential but also having their inexperience exposed.
The veteran Hill is deep into the backside of his career but he’s still a serviceable backend starter. He’s 4-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 15 starts this season. The lefty provides a reliable option to help stabilize the staff.
In part due to their undermanned rotation, Boston has sunk to the bottom of the AL East and 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. Unless they can pull off a winning streak over the next few days, the Red Sox will need to consider selling some of their veterans on expiring contracts.
Hill would fall into that category considering the 42-year-old is on a one-year deal and isn’t part of the team’s long-term plans. He might not fetch much in a deal but there are always contenders looking to stockpile arms and a veteran lefty with Hill’s experience could draw some interest.
However, the timing of his return suggests that the Red Sox have no intention of trading Hill. It seems unlikely that they would have already informed him that he would pitch against the Astros next week if they were shopping him. The 6:00 p.m. deadline on Tuesday will have already passed by the time Hill takes the mound that night, preventing potential suitors from getting a look at him against major league competition following his month-long absence.
There’s never a guarantee that a player’s spot on the team is secure at this time of year. The front office has adamantly stated that Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers aren’t for sale yet many fans still won’t be comfortable believing that statement until the deadline has safely passed.
If the Red Sox continue slipping out of the race and a contender comes calling with an offer Chaim Bloom can’t refuse, Hill could still be moved at the deadline. At the moment, that doesn’t appear to be a likely outcome though. We should expect Hill to be in a Red Sox uniform next week, ready to help patch a rotation in desperate need of his experience.