Hill, Dodgers Look to Extend NLDS Advantage

Sep 30, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill (44) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Game 2 has been postponed until Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific. Games 3 and 4 remain unchanged, and will be played on Monday and Tuesday in Los Angeles.)

Just one day after grinding out a tough 4-3 victory over the Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday, the Dodgers will turn to veteran lefty Rich Hill for Game 2 in hopes of burying Washington into an even deeper hole.

In a perfect world, Hill would love to give his squad some length after the team dug deep into the bullpen in the first contest. After resident ace Clayton Kershaw grinded his way through five innings with 101 pitches on Friday, the bullpen was nothing short of brilliant in preserving the win. The Dodgers used a total of four relievers in the final four innings, capped by a five-out save from righty closer Kenley Jansen.

Despite battling a blister on his throwing finger, Hill was still able to tally a 2.12 ERA with 129 strikeouts against 33 walks in 110-1/3 innings between Oakland and Los Angeles this year, with an opponents’ batting average of only .195.

The 36-year-old southpaw hasn’t thrown more than 93 pitches since returning from the DL in late August, and is probably most commonly remembered for being pulled after seven innings and 89 pitches amid a quest for a perfect game against the Marlins last month.

While his four-seam is only clocked right around 89 MPH, Hill has refound success this season with his off-speed arsenal, most specifically by raising his arm slot and shifting his left foot to the third base side of the rubber. He tends to thrive in the upper part of the strike zone with all his pitches. He relies on his curve ball more than 50-percent of the time, but perhaps his most impressive stat is he hasn’t allowed a home run to a left-handed batter all season.

Hill will be opposed by Nationals righty Tanner Roark. The 30-year-old Illinois native has everything under the sun in his repertoire, including a four-seam, a cutter, a quality curve, a slider and a change. His two-seam typically lives in the 90-91 range, while his heater can climb up to about 95. His pitching splits are about dead even, so it will be interesting to see what type of lineup the Dodgers show in Saturday’s affair. Roark’s OPSA was actually higher against right-handed batters than leftys over the course of 2016.

Roark is also known to have very solid control. His go-to pitch against left-handed batters is his changeup, while his primary weapon against rightys is a very dangerous slider. In his only outing against the Dodgers in 2016, Roark allowed three earned runs over 7-1/3 innings.

If the Dodgers manage to hold the Nationals at bay in Game 2, they’ll travel on Saturday night with a comfortable 2-0 series lead, eventually arriving home to host Game 3 on Monday.

Kenta Maeda is slated to start for the Dodgers in Game 3, facing off against Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Pacific/4:00 p.m. Eastern and will be televised on the MLB Network.

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