The Dodgers starting pitching has been strong of late, unfortunately, they have been let down by poor run support. Rich Hill is one starter who has been dominant lately and he will look to keep that up tonight against the Brewers.
Rich Hill’s first start of the 2018 season was a strong one as he went six innings allowing just five hits and no earned runs. After that first start, Hill seemed to be battling more blister related issues as he posted ERA’s of 6.00 and 6.52 for the months of April and May.
Besides being knocked around, Hill struggled with his command which led to WHIP’s of 1.60 and 1.97 for each of the first two months and it appeared as if Rich Hill was finally giving in to father time and a bullpen role was in the near future.
After a month layoff from May 19th to June 19th, Hill has returned with a vengeance and been pitching like the top of the rotation starter that he was signed to be. Rich has made seven starts since June 19th and outside of two starts where he gave up four runs, Hill has given up two or fewer runs in five of his last seven starts to put those bullpen ideas to bed.
Outside of allowing less runs, the command issues Hill was experiencing earlier this season also appear to have gone away as he has walked more than two batters in a game just once since coming off of the disabled list.
Particularly in his past two outings, Hill has seen an uptick in strikeouts as he recorded seventeen strikeouts in his last two starts combined. This is probably due to the velocity Hill has shown in his most recent starts. Over the past several outings Hill has thrown as hard as 93 miles per hour which is as hard as he’s thrown as a Dodger.
For the season, Hill’s fastball is averaging 89.4 miles per hour which are a few ticks lower than he has been throwing lately. It will be interesting to see if the velocity sticks around 92-93 mph for long as Hill has had similar upticks on his fastball velocity since 2016 but then it regresses back to the high 80’s.
This season Hill has thrown harder as the season has progressed, so his fingers must be feeling good as his blister issues have gone away. With the type of curveball that Rich Hill has, a fastball in the low 90’s will look like the upper 90’s after a batter sees a slow looping curveball. This makes it less surprising to see the recent strikeout numbers that Hill has put up.
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Tonight Rich will look to continue his resurgence against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers have lost three in a row, albeit not due to their starting pitching, so Hill will look to help the Dodgers try to end their losing streak. Hill faced the Brewers recently on the road and pitched six innings of one-run ball on July 20th.
Although Hill walked four and did not have the best command in his last start against the Brewers, he still managed to strike out nine hitters in one of his best strikeout games of the season. Hill will look to duplicate those six strong innings tonight against a different Brewers’ lineup as they have acquired Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop in the last week.
With Hyun-Jin Ryu expected to return soon and the Dodgers already using a six-man rotation, Hill will need to continue pitching well since he is one of the more likely starters who could be moved to the bullpen due to his prior experience as a reliever.