How Will Rich Hill Contribute During the Stretch Run of 2019?

hill

At the rate his recovery was going more than a month ago, many pundits felt that it would be tough for veteran Rich Hill to build up his arm enough to contribute as a starter for the Dodgers during the 2019 postseason.

Initially, it seemed as if he was destined for a role in the bullpen, if there was to be any role at all.

However, just over the last week to 10 days, things seemed to have changed course a bit, as Hill’s throwing program has accelerated.

During the Marlins series last Thursday in Florida, the lefty played catch from 120 feet and made 50 throws in all. At Dodger Stadium before the opener against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, he threw comfortably from 150 feet. Based on what they saw, both management and trainers are permitting the veteran to throw a bullpen later this week—his first since being diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain in mid-June.

“The way he threw the baseball, I didn’t see anything that would’ve shown any signs that he was on the injured list,” skipper Dave Roberts said.

And, while it’s certainly foolish to think too far ahead, some folks are envisioning Hill as being a potential fourth starter in the playoffs.

Front office boss Andrew Friedman believes there’s enough time to successfully stretch out Hill’s left arm.

“The question is, do we have time to build him up to 90 to 100 pitches? I think we do,” Friedman stated last week.

Obviously, the starting rotation picture can change over the next five-plus weeks, especially if any type of physical ailment—heaven forbid—sneaks its way into the picture. But, with the way things stand now, Hill could theoretically slide nicely into the fourth starting spot in the postseason, particularly if the team sticks to its sentiments of moving Kenta Maeda back to the bullpen for the beginning of the playoffs.

As far as playoff rotations go, it doesn’t get much better than Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Conceivably, if the Dodgers cruise through the NLDS in convincing fashion, they might not even need a fourth starter until the later stages of the NLCS.

Since his arrival in Los Angeles at the trade deadline back in 2016, Hill has been relatively solid in the postseason. He was smacked around a bit against the Nationals in Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS, but has been relatively consistent otherwise. Over 12 career playoff appearances—11 of which have been starts—he has put together a 3.04 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 50-1/3 innings. Perhaps his best career postseason effort was his last one, when he threw 6-1/3 innings of one-hit ball against the Red Sox in Game 4 of last year’s World Series. (Coincidentally, that was the exact Game 4 that the Los Angeles bullpen imploded, as six relief pitchers surrendered eight runs on seven hits and three walks during the final 2-2/3 innings).

Anyway, there are more than enough opportunities for the team to continue to experiment with different pitching combinations. Time is beginning to run out on the seasons of the affiliates down on the farm, but piggybacking opportunities will exist at the big league level, similar to what the Dodgers are doing with Dustin May to help him get acclimated into a relief role.

Furthermore, righty Tony Gonsolin may continue to wow the world with his splitter and eventually sneak his way into the fourth spot in the playoff rotation, reiterating just how many plausible scenarios exist.

Still, if he show’s he’s 100% healthy, Hill will be the obvious choice, base on his previous track record in the postseason, his ability to handle pressure situations and his will to win.

 

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18 thoughts on “How Will Rich Hill Contribute During the Stretch Run of 2019?

    1. He is using Field of Genes this players weekend. Unfortunately he will not be on the mound. Gyorko is Jerk Store. Negron is sporting Negron James. Freese is Dave Human, Beaty is Baters Taters, Kelly is 909, May will Have Big Red on his jersey, Gonsolin is Goooose, Muncy is going with Funky Muncy, Pollock is Pollo, and Verdugo is Dugie. Rest of the players using the ones they had last year with Martin and Pederson using emoji’s Ryu has his name in Korean on his uni.

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  1. Me? Ryu, Buehler, Kershaw. Maeda, Gonsolin, May, Hill, Urias. Stripling. How the last 5 of that shakes out might change in September.

    That looks to me like a lot of starting power. He who does not start may be asked to help finish.

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  2. Kelly mows down Killer BG’s! Looks playoff ready! Now let’s see what Jansen brings in the 9th? And Buehler looks playoff ready as well. At least at Dodger Stadium!

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      1. Check his stats over the last month and a half Dennis. He has been the pitcher they thought they had when they signed him. He has only walked 3, struck out 17 since the break. His BA against in that time is .186. What ever was wrong before, he has turned it around and it has been by really mixing his pitches and pounding the zone. That is something Jansen no longer does. And yeah, at this point I trust Baez more than I do Jansen because he has that 97 MPH heater he can throw up in the zone and get them to chase. Jansen throws maybe 92 most of the time and they have been getting to those pitches.

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  3. Kenley is a shell of his former self. I’m trying to recall another star closer on his level that fell off this bad this fast. I can’t think of any. It’s like his arm just died.

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  4. I was one of the people calling for the Dodgers to maximize Muncy’s value this offseason and trade him tho king he would never repeat what he did. It never felt so good to be wrong. He’s even better this year and could very well hit 40HR this year.

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    1. Another dramatic walk off, set up by another Jansen Blown Save. Can you see him in there against that Yankee lineup? Do we hold him out this weekend so he can sneak up on them in October? Yeah, that’ll work.

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  5. I do know this is all getting into Jansen’s psyche. He showed genuine disgust last night. And this did not just start this year. It started back during the 17 World Series. His ERA in 2017 was 1.32. Last year it was over 3. This year his ERA is 1.5 runs higher than his career ERA. He has blown 6, he blew 4 last year, given up 8 HR’s, last year it was 13, only 4 in 2017. Even though he had 2 saves in the 17 series, he lost a game and blew one. He lost one last year to the Red Sox in the series, so he clearly has not been a dominant closer the last 2 seasons. They had a chance at the deadline to improve what is the teams main weakness and they got Kolarek. I honestly believe that Ol Andy screwed the pooch this time. I give Jansen a blow for a while and insert Kelly there until Kenley either figures it out, or melts down one or the other. He clearly is not the same pitcher, and now it is in his head.

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    1. Maybe the contract softened him up. Maybe his health is not where it should be. Whatever it is, it needs fixing or replacing. If he can’t close out the lowly Jays at home, he has little chance against the Yankees or Astros on the road.

      I am as distanced from the goins on as I have been in years. Moving closer only serves to close the shades.
      Southern California is even more f’d up than it was when I left in ‘74. 4 million people live in Orange County, half of them across the street from me and the rest of them are on the road the same time I am. Home town Dodgers? No way to watch live, but I do read up on this team and from everything I read you want to beat them it’s fastballs up and in, breaking balls down …. and get to the pen. (btw, Smith’s hole is up. Learned that on Gameday. Terrible way to view a game but there is information contained within and it’s all I got)

      At this time there is no team in the NL that can hang with us. That could change in September of course but I really doubt it will. October? I still believe home field team has the edge.

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  6. Can’t see diddly….they dilated my eyes today. First cataract surgery is the 17th of next month..the next a week after that…

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    1. Venezuela. Mexican kid with a killer screwball. MVP and ROY. ROY, helluva cowboy, married to Dale Evans. I met her at a mom & pop market in Chatsworth once. She was nice. Bought me an RC Cola. Looked nothing like what she did on tv.

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