“I look for Rich to throw the ball really well,” manager Dave Roberts said on Monday. “Under the circumstances of Game 5, you've got to be open to pushing him, and I know he's up for the challenge.”
Hill struck out seven in four innings in Game 2, walking three while allowing one run on three hits. He was pulled after just 60 pitches, after which very little has gone right for the Dodgers pitching staff.
Since Hill left Game 2, the Dodgers have allowed 27 runs on 39 hits in 33⅔ innings, cumulatively using 25 pitchers during that span. Perhaps if he could have foreseen Yu Darvish recording only five outs and Clayton Kershaw unable to complete five innings, Roberts might have made a different move.
Behind Hill on Tuesday, the Dodgers will have essentially all hands on deck, with every pitcher but Darvish and Kershaw made available, per Roberts. Alex Wood, who allowed only one run and one hit in 5⅔ innings in his Game 4 start, will likely be available out of the bullpen in Game 6.
“I'll know more once these guys are on the field tomorrow playing catch and let us know how their arms are feeling,” Roberts said. “Obviously each guy is going to want to do everything he can to help us win a baseball game.”
Hill has a 2.76 ERA this postseason, with 19 strikeouts and seven walks in 13 innings. He has allowed exactly three hits in all three starts, and has faced 18, 19 and 18 batters, respectively in those starts.
“Rich Hill has been unbelievable for us all year long, down in the strike zone and getting us deep in the games,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “Just the veteran presence he has on the mound, the composure, the competitiveness that he brings, the fire. It's huge for us.
“I know speaking for myself, and I'm sure a lot of other guys in the clubhouse, we’re pretty fired up that he's going to get the ball.”
On offense, the Dodgers face the tough challenge of Justin Verlander again. They got to him for a pair of home runs in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium, and he left the game trailing 3-1.
Those two home runs — by Joc Pederson and Corey Seager — were the Dodgers’ only two hits in Game 2 against Verlander, who struck out nine and allowed only a run on two hits in eight innings against LA during the regular season, on Aug. 20 in Detroit. The Dodgers are 4-for-45 (.089) with three walks and 14 strikeouts against Verlander this season, with three home runs and a single.
Pederson has an extra-base hit in each of the last four games, including a double in Game 5 in reserve. He’s 4-for-11 with two home runs, two doubles, two walks, four runs scored and four RBI in the World Series, hitting .364/.462/1.091.
The Dodgers record for extra-base hits in a World Series is six, with Duke Snider hitting four home runs and two doubles in 1952.
Pederson will start in Game 6, still benefiting from a mechanical change — “He’s more set in his legs,” Roberts said — made when he was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in August.
“For him it's just that focus on every pitch. Right now in the postseason you're seeing him stay in the strike zone,” Roberts said. “These are the best at-bats I've seen him over a certain period of time in two years.”
Tuesday night is the 176th game of the season for the Dodgers, the most they have ever played, and it will be played on Halloween, the latest date the Dodgers have ever played.
World Series Game 6 info
First pitch: 5:20 p.m.
TV: Fox (coverage starts at 4:30 p.m.)
Announcers: Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal, Tom Verducci
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go
Local radio: AM 570 (Charley Steiner, Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone)