Dodgers: Five Key Players That Will Determine the Season
By Ryan Vargas
The Dodgers were active at the Trade Deadline last year, acquiring Rich Hill and Josh Reddick from the Oakland A’s. The Dodgers envisioned Hill as their #2 starting pitcher to slot behind Clayton Kershaw in a playoff series.
Rich Hill had a fantastic 2016 season, going 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA over 110.1 innings pitched. The 37-year-old was hampered by blisters, which caused him to miss multiple starts, but was able to come through for the Dodgers when it mattered the most in the playoffs.
The front office liked what they saw from Hill and rewarded him with a three-year deal worth $48 million this offseason. 2017 will be Hill’s first full season with the Dodgers, who are expecting big things from him after giving a pitcher of his age so much money.
It has already been established that Clayton Kershaw cannot do it all by himself, and that is why the team is counting on Hill to be their #2 pitcher. The key for Rich is to stay healthy because when he is healthy he has the potential to be one of the best lefties in the game.
Health has been something of an issue for Hill throughout his career. He has never pitched more than 200 innings in a single season and his 110.1 innings last season was his most in the major leagues since 2007.
If Hill can stay healthy and live up to the Dodgers’ expectations as a #2 starter, it would go a long way towards winning the NL West. With Hill manning the #2 spot, it allows pitchers like Maeda, Urias, and others to drop down in the rotation, giving them more favorable matchups against opponents.
If Hill can remain healthy and pitch some quality innings for the Dodgers this season, it would allow the bullpen to get some rest and remain sharp. The 162 game season is a grind and the less work the bullpen has to do, the better. This is especially important for a team like that Dodgers who have World Series aspirations. Los Angeles will need its bullpen come October, if they wish to contend for a title.
Los Angeles has been looking for a pitcher to fill the hole Greinke left when he signed with Arizona last offseason. A healthy Hill can be that man and is vital to both the starting rotation and bullpen. Rich Hill’s success is key to the Dodgers’ overall success.