Rich Hill entered this season a nice new contract from the Dodgers. He had some ups and downs but was mostly good this year. Let’s look back at his 2017 campaign.
Hill came into this season with a lot of expectations as the Dodgers number two starter behind Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers gave the 37-year-old journeyman a three year $48 million contract last offseason after coming off a strong 2016 campaign in which he went 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA and 2.39 FIP for the A’s and Dodgers combined. Hill initially got off to a slow start and it looked like the Dodgers were going to quickly regret that contract but Hill managed to get stronger as the season went on.
Hill’s blister problems from last season resurfaced again, and Hill was forced to miss some time in April and May. It looked like those blister issues were never going to go away but Hill managed to get over them and stay in the rotation from June on. He was only 4-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 10 starts through June but then turned things around starting July. Hill had a great July going 4-0 in 5 starts with a 1.45 ERA. He had an incredibly low 0.774 WHIP and averaged 11.6 SO/9.
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He struggled some in August posting a 4.71 ERA in five starts, but he did have a game for the ages August 19th when he pitched nine no-hit innings against the Pirates before giving up a walk-off homerun to Josh Harrison in the tenth. His no-hit bid would’ve easily been a perfect game if it wasn’t for a Logan Forsythe error in the eighth inning. It was a heart breaking defeat for Hill, but it didn’t take away from the fact that he took a no-hitter into the tenth while striking out ten and walking zero.
Hill then finished the season strong posting a 1.86 ERA in September while winning his last three starts. Overall, Hill went 12-8 with a solid 3.32 ERA making 25 starts in 135.1 IP. His strong finish gave the Dodgers the confidence to make Hill the number two starter going into the postseason, a spot where he started the season but lost over the course of the year. Though he didn’t get the opportunities to pitch deeper into the game in the playoffs he still played very well with the innings he was given.
Hill had a 2.55 ERA in 4 starts pitching 17.2 innings in the playoffs. In the World Series he had a 2.08 ERA in his 2 starts. Hill was tasked with matching up against the Astros best pitcher in each of his starts and held his own both occasions. He came up big in his game six starts with the Dodgers season on the line and was a significant factor in the win to force a game seven by only allowing one run in 4.2 innings. His early exits were a controversial decision by the Dodgers but he was great nonetheless.
Outside of a few bad starts Hill was very solid for the Dodgers this season. A player who has had such an interesting career has found the fountain of youth. He has redefined himself by throwing a variety of curveballs from different angles and commanding his fastball. I give Hill a solid B+ this season and he looks to have plenty left in the tank going forward.