Dodgers: The Resurgence of Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 06: Rich Hill
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 06: Rich Hill /

Rich Hill was originally slated to be the 2nd ace behind Kershaw when the Dodgers decided to re-up his contract this past offseason. However, after continued blister problems, it started to look as if Hill was destined to fail. Seemingly out of nowhere, Hill has been able to find success, and it seems like the Dodgers got back the guy they were expecting to see all season.

There has been much talk of the Dodgers acquiring another starting pitcher at the trade deadline this year, but it isn’t the team’s biggest need. For one, the going rate for a starting pitcher is pretty steep; just look at what the Cubs gave up for a solid pitcher in Jose Quintana. Secondly, Rich Hill has basically been a deadline acquisition, as he has found his stride as of late.

Let’s go back to June 26th against the Angels, a game I attended. My first thought, as I checked whom the probables were for the night, was “Ohh man, Hill’s on the mound”. A thought I would later regret. Hill had a strong outing as he went seven innings and gave up three runs on four hits while striking out seven. It wasn’t his best outing, but the fact he was able to get through seven strong while only allowing four hits is all I can ask for.

His next start impressed me a little more.

On July 1st, the Dodgers took a trip to San Diego in which Rich Hill looked to dominate a weak Padres lineup. And dominate he did. In seven innings of work, Hill gave up no runs on four base hits. The icing on the cake was that he recorded 11 strikeouts. The Padres aren’t good this year and Hill did exactly what he needed to do, shut them down. What was even bigger to me was that Hill looked to have regained his confidence in his curveball, something I will touch on a little later.

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Hill’s most recent outing came against the Diamondbacks on July 6th. You may remember this as the Fernando Rodney 2.0 game, but what gets buried under this amazing game was Rich Hill’s dominant outing. Hill threw seven innings of two-hit ball and gave up one run via a Jake Lamb home run. Hill also sat down nine hitters in the game on strikeouts and really looked like the Hill of old.

So, is Hill getting back on track? And what is the reason he has looked so much like his former self? If you ask my colleague Sunit, he will attribute it to his new cutter that he has found. If you ask me, I would attribute it to his new curveball grip and wind up.

We know that Rich Hill has one of the best curveballs in baseball, and we know he throws it more than any other starter in baseball. Therefore, we can only assume that when his curveball is working, he is the dominant pitcher the Dodgers need. The fact that Hill can make his starts without worrying about his finger tearing off can be the cause of his resurgence. Now that he has found a combination that has worked for him, he will be able to go out and throw his curve to his heart’s content, which is perfect for Dodgers’ fans.

Yes, we may see Hill deal with injuries again this season, but that’s just the kind of guy he is. At least we know that he is back to his former self. So, what can we expect going forward from Hill? When healthy, Hill is the Dodgers’ second best pitcher (sorry Alex Wood), and that’s just what the Dodgers need.

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Just remember this when the Dodgers ultimately trade for J.D Martinez and Justin Wilson. The Dodgers got a top-of-the-line starter in Rich Hill, and the best part is he was right under their nose; he just had to put it all together.