He has played for eight different teams during his 11 year career. He has suffered through a bevy of injuries that have landed him on the disabled list during most of his time in Major League Baseball. It has been quite a tumultuous path through the big leagues, but perhaps, finally, journeyman Rich Hill has reached his destination.
Hill joined the Dodgers along with Josh Reddick from the Oakland Athletics just before the August 1 trade deadline. It was a deal that, up until recently, had Dodger fans scratching their heads. The 36-year-old south paw from Oakland began his stint with the Dodgers in a familiar place; on the DL. For the Dodgers, it wasn’t the welcoming their front office had envisioned. However, they saw the trade as one that would surely benefit the team.
“Rich Hill, just from a pure performance standpoint, was as good or better than any starting pitcher who was traded today or in the last week or so.” Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi said just after the deal with Oakland.
Upon his return from the nasty blister to the middle finger of his left hand, Hill has been nothing short of outstanding. Since taking the mound donning Dodger blue he is 2-0, and has yet to give up an earned run in twelve innings. What is most impressive is he has done this against division rivals, the Padres and Giants; teams the Dodgers will see again down the stretch.
“It’s just very encouraging,” Manager Dave Roberts said after Hill’s victory over the Padres on Saturday, his second consecutive quality start.
Preceding his victory over the Padres was an extremely encouraging 1-0 defeat of the second place Giants the previous week. With little run support in that game, Hill needed to be flawless to enable the Dodgers to increase the National League West division lead over their rivals to the north. Hill was naturally very pleased with the way he pitched on that day.
“Everything felt solid,” Hill said after his first start as a Dodger. “Mentally, felt great. Body feels good. Just being able to stay pitch to pitch, in the moment, is extremely advantageous.”
Hill is now unbeaten in his last 10 starts, going 8-0 with a 1.61 ERA during that stretch. If he can continue to stay healthy, he is exactly what the Dodgers need as they approach the final few weeks of the season and postseason. Hill will provide the Dodgers with a quality third starter behind staff ace Clayton Kershaw (assuming Kershaw can return to the rotation at 100 percent) and surprise first-year pitcher from Japan, Kenta Maeda. The trio should provide the Dodgers with a formidable rotation heading into the playoffs.
Hill will be a free agent at the end of the season. However, a recent story states the Dodgers hope is to keep Hill, allowing the south paw to finish his career in Los Angeles. The report, published Saturday by the Boston Globe, says the club is interested in re-signing Hill before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. The Dodgers would likely offer him a one-year contract that could entice the pitcher, and provide him with another opportunity to reach the postseason.
Dodger Stadium has always been considered a pitcher’s park, and other than Coors Field in Colorado, each of NL west teams plays in “pitcher friendly” ballparks. In Hill’s case, the city of angels would be a fitting final stop for a pitcher whose major league career has been quite a journey.