LOS ANGELES — Rich Hill ended his regular season in style on Wednesday night against the Padres, and now — like a few of his rotation mates — begins the long wait before making his first playoff start.
The National League Division Series doesn’t start until Friday, Oct. 6, and the Dodgers haven’t announced their rotation, other than the known constant of Clayton Kershaw starting Game 1. The earliest Hill would start next in a game is Oct. 7, and possibly a few days after that.
“It all comes down to effort and the way you go about your business. It doesn’t matter when the game is. It’s about keeping that effort consistent. When you do that, you give yourself a chance,” Hill said. “I just have to make sure to do my routine.”
Up next for Hill will be a simulated game at some point during the Dodgers’ four-day layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of the NLDS, with the first two games at Dodger Stadium.
He won’t be alone in simulation land. The Dodgers end their regular season with three games against at Coors Field against the Rockies, a potential opponent in the first round. Hyun-jin Ryu starts Friday and Kershaw on Saturday, but the regular season finale on Sunday is to be determined, with several relievers likely lined up.
“It’s going to be essentially a bullpen day, but we don’t know who that starter is going to be,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Yu Darvish and Alex Wood, who pitched the first two games of this series against the Padres on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, won’t pitch in Denver, either. They are lined up to pitch simulated games, too, after the Dodgers return home.
Whenever Hill pitches next, he sure ended his season on a high note. He struck out 10 on Wednesday, his third double-digit strikeout game of the season. Only two Padres reached second base in Hill’s seven scoreless innings, and one was thanks to an error.
“It was a good night for Rich. Complete command,” Roberts said. “He was pretty much stress free all night.”
“I had all my pitches working,” Hill said. “It was a good way to end the season, and look forward to the playoffs.”
Hill’s fastball varied between 87-94 mph most of the night, per Gameday, and his curve was 73-76 mph.
“He’s got a different fastball. It’s pretty special,” said catcher Austin Barnes. “That speed differential, when he throws that curveball so slow then comes with the fastball, it really gets on hitters.
“He’s been doing well, there’s a lot of confidence in him right now.”
That confidence is thanks to Hill allowing just six total runs in five starts in September, with 40 strikeouts and eight walks in 29 innings, the final 12 of which were scoreless.
“Good timing, I guess,” Hill said. “Right in time for the postseason.”
The Dodgers will travel to Denver on Friday, then open their final regular season series on Friday against the Rockies, who own a 2½ game lead over the Brewers and 3½ game advantage over the Cardinals in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot.
Ryu starts Friday for the Dodgers, with Chad Bettis pitching for the Rockies, in a 5:10 p.m. PT start.