Dodgers: Rich Hill brings tough playoff mentality to September
Rich Hill wants to pitch for the Dodgers. More specifically he wants to pitch in October. Despite his injuries, there’s no 39-year old I’d rather see pitch.
One of the most seasoned pitchers in the game today, Hill has playoff experience under his belt and a drive to succeed. There’s even an added chip on his shoulder for this season thanks to all of the injuries he’s had to battle.
Even though he has been injured quite a few times in his LA tenure, 2019 has proven to be much more challenging. After throwing 135.2 innings in 2017 and 132.2 innings in 2018, Hill has compiled a meager 53.2 innings this season, pitching in just 11 games.
If he were a lesser talent, and perhaps, more importantly, a lesser competitor and teammate, he may have already shut himself down, tired of the damage being done to his body in what may be his last season in the Bigs.
But he’s Rich Hill. He’s D. Mountain. He’s the man behind Field of Genes. He is not going to stop trying to play this season just because of an MCL strain. No way.
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Instead of calling it a season, Hill is determined to pitch in the postseason for the fifth time in his career, and his fourth in as many years with the Dodgers. Instead of finishing out his season on the bench, he’s been working to try and get around the knee injury so he can still pitch.
Here’s how Jorge Castillo of the LA Times broke down his recovery process:
"So on Saturday, two days before a scheduled MRI exam on his knee, he threw on flat ground with a brace on his knee at Citi Field. He fooled around with his mechanics until he found a delivery that did not produce the pain in his knee. The ball, he said, came out as it usually does two days after a start. He emerged optimistic. He will test the knee out with another throwing session Sunday. He hopes to throw off a mound in a few days."
Hill wants to pitch in the postseason, and based on his results through three postseasons in LA, the Dodgers should want him to as well.
With LA, he has 47.1 innings in the postseason with a sub-3.00 ERA. In 2016, he rebounded after two rough starts in the NLDS with the Nationals to throw six shutout innings of two-hit ball with six punchouts to get the win. In 2017, he only made it through five innings once, but the Dodgers won three of his four decisions.
But like a fine wine or a rambunctious toddler, Hill only got better with time. Last postseason, Hill had the amazing game against the Red Sox in game 4 (which still is a little too painful to talk about), with an overall line of a 2.16 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning.
If he can make it back, even in a limited relief role, he provides value just by being an option out of the bullpen. Dodger fans everywhere should want Hill to be able to make the climb into the postseason, no matter the obstacles and odds.