Dodgers: Rich Hill wants to return but should LA bring him back?
Rich Hill will be one of the free agents the Dodgers could lose this off-season. Hill wants to return but should LA bring him back?
Along with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill will join the free-agent pool this off-season as the Dodgers could lose two starting pitchers. While it is assumed that Hyun-Jin Ryu wants to return to LA, Rich Hill has made it clear that he would love to return to the Dodgers. The question will be whether that is a mutual feeling and if the Dodgers want to bring him back.
Hill was still very effective in his limited 2019 season as he pitched to an ERA of 2.45 across 13 starts and held the opposition to a .223 average. His one postseason start didn’t last very long as he pitched just 2 2/3 innings against the Nationals and allowed four walks and one earned run. That was game four when the Dodgers lost to Max Scherzer.
While the Dodgers will likely seek one frontline starter such as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, it would still make sense to bring Hill back if he is willing to pitch in whatever role is asked of him. Chances are he will be open to pitching in any role and he will cost much less than the $18.6 million dollar salary he earned this season.
At least one rotation spot figures to be shared between Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Julio Urias. It is unlikely that any of the three young starters pitch more than 150 innings next season, especially Urias and Gonsolin. This is where bringing Rich Hill back in a swingman type role could be an effective and cost-efficient solution for the Dodgers.
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D. Mountain will turn forty years old next March and given his knee and arm issues this year it is unlikely that the Dodgers will get more than 15 starts out of him next season. Counting on him to hold down a rotation spot would likely backfire on the Dodgers but using him out of the bullpen and in the rotation as needed could help out both the bullpen and the rotation.
Rich Hill used to be a reliever so it should be a role he can readjust to quickly and he could be an effective left-handed relief option given the new three batter minimum rule that will take effect next season. Hill could serve as a reliever against both left and right-handed batters rather than being a LOOGY like Adam Kolarek. He could also pitch multiple innings out of the pen.
Then when injuries occur as they do every season, Hill could fill in as a spot starter until the injured player returns. Pitching out of the bullpen would also keep Hill’s innings and wear and tear down next season so if the Dodgers decide he should be a fourth playoff starter in 2020, he can be moved to the rotation later in the year and go into the postseason much more fresh and healthy.
Hill is a fan favorite and one of the best comeback stories in sports given how he has bounced around in his career. If Hill is willing to come back to LA and pitch in a swingman type role then it makes sense to bring him back for another season. The only question with Rich remains his health but not being counted on for 20+ starts should keep him relatively healthy.