Rich Hill had yet another great season in Los Angeles, making 24 starts, including some great ones in the postseason.
What went right
For the second year in a row, Hill was able to stay healthy and avoid long stints on the DL. His 24 starts were the third most in a season for his career. After a shaky first half, Hill was able to bounce back, and be one of the more dominant left-handers pitchers in baseball.
It was a change in delivery back in June that allowed Hill to adjust a mechanical flaw, improving his balance on the rubber and the angle of his delivery.
“The changes were very minuscule, but huge overall,” Hill told media after seven shutout innings against Atlanta on July 26. “Looking back on it, absolutely, it was a good thing. Tonight was a good night. The ball came out really well, and I’m looking forward to continuing that. That’s what the bullpen and the work are for in between starts, to keep that feel and make sure you stick with the mechanical changes we made and don’t veer off.”
During the second-half of the season, Hill went 9-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He had 90 strikeouts in 77 1⁄3 innings, and held opponents to a .187 batting average.
Hill was also able to escape jams all season long. With two outs and runners in scoring position, hitters had a .103 average, with 12 strikeouts. The lefty had seven games with at least eight strikeouts.
He also had the best nickname of any player in major league baseball during players weekend.
What went wrong
It was a rough start to the season for Hill. He allowed 17 runs over the course of four starts from April until May. He hit the DL on April 14, and came back on May 8. He’d only make three starts until he would hit the DL yet again.
On May 19, Hill had to be taken out after making only two pitches. Yet again, he was dealing with a reoccurring blister problem that landed him on the DL for the second time.
The lefty allowed 36 of the 57 runs he allowed all year in eight of his 24 starts. Hill allowed 15 runs in 14 innings over three starts against the Diamondbacks, and owned a 2.96 ERA for the entire year against all other opponents, with an 11-3 record.
The struggles with Arizona were bad enough that the Dodgers skipped Hill’s turn in late September to avoid the Dbacks, moving him instead to the last game of the season in San Francisco.
Stats: 11-5, 3.66 ERA, 150 K, 132 2⁄3 IP
Salary: $16 million
Game of the year
Although it will likely be forgotten due to a bullpen collapse, Hill was absolutely brilliant in game 4 of the World Series. Trailing the series 2-1, Hill went out and was practically un-hittable.
In 6 1⁄3 innings, Hill held the Red Sox to only one hit and would be charged with one run — thanks Ryan Madson — to go along with seven strikeouts. Had the Dodgers won the game, Hill would have become a postseason hero for his amazing start.
Hill has nine years and 127 days of service time. He’s under contract for one more season.