Rich Hill really wants to pitch for the Dodgers in the postseason. But for the first time in his time with LA, he’s not a lock for October baseball.
With the injuries he’s sustained this season to his knee (twice) and his forearm, he’s only tossed a little over 50 innings. That’s a significant amount of missed time, as he usually has hit the 130-inning plateau with the Dodgers despite blisters and other nagging injuries.
But Hill is not one to go down quietly. At age 39, many quality starting pitchers have already hung up the spikes and are quietly growing their beer bellies at home, or have more gracefully made the transition to coaching, broadcasting, scouting, etc.
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D. Mountain is cut from a different clothe though. Hill is a postseason performer, maybe the most successful starter on the team in the last three postseasons. Here are his stats from the last three postseasons as I broke them down a few weeks ago:
"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."
In Hill’s upcoming start against the San Diego Padres, he’ll probably only throw to one time through the order. That’s all he really needs to do though. He is not going to be expected to mow hitters down more than one or two times through the order, he just needs to act in the Kenta Maeda role from the left side.
If he can pitch maybe twice per series for two or three innings that’s all the team will need. With lefties like Adam Kolarek, Caleb Ferguson, and Julio Urias already acting in the more traditional bullpen lefty role, Hill has more freedom to pitch as a tandem starter with Ross Stripling or Tony Gonsolin pitching in a bulk role out of the pen which could provide the team just the boost they need.