Continuing the Dodgers Nation Player Review Series, we will be looking at the 2018 season of Rich Hill.
2018 was the second year of the 38 year old’s 3 year $48 million contract and he started the season in the number 4 spot in the rotation. His first start of the season was a 6 inning shutout against the Giants on national TV. It went downhill from there for the first two months.
From a slow and injury plagued start, to becoming Dick Mountain and to having an amazing World Series start, it was quite a season for Mr. Hill.
A Rough Start
It all started with an uneven Spring Training in which Rich Hill only had 4 starts for 12.1 innings. He got a blister in just his third start of the regular season and was put on the disabled list on April 18. Hill was activated on May 8 without any rehabilitation outings.
He was mediocre when he came back and had to leave his third start back on May 19th after just two pitches with more blister issues.
This time he had a rehabilitation start for the Quakes. I was there for it and he looked good with 10 strikeouts in just 4.2 innings pitched. He was then activated for the Dodgers on June 19 in Chicago and threw 6 innings of shutout ball against the Cubs.
Rich Gets Rolling
The start against the Cubs was be the beginning of mostly good starts through the next three months. His Earned Run Averages (ERA) for June, July and August were 2.55, 2.42 and 3.15 respectively.
In a season where the Dodgers had a lot of pitchers on the disabled list, Hill went at least 5 innings in every start from June 19th until the end of the season.
The story of Rich Hill’s “Dick Mountain” nickname:
It originated in Boston in 2011, when Brock Holt thought it would be funny to just call him “Dick” and “Mountain” for Rich and Hill. Soon, it became just “Dick Mountain.” Hill said he still gets regularly called Dick Mountain. https://t.co/Oh03Q7krx7
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 25, 2018
For the Players’ Weekend, Hill put “D. Mountain” as his nickname. He had a dominant start with the jersey on against the Padres and created a mini-sensation as people went online to get the D. Mountain shirts and jerseys. The semi-“NSFW” nickname presented some challenges to broadcasters and commentators. It was great to hear them all deal with it.
A few wobbly starts in early September plus the dominance of Walker Buehler and Hyun-Jin Ryu made Hill the fourth starter in the playoff rotation.
His first start was game 4 in Atlanta in the National League Division Series (NLDS) that ended up being the clincher for the Dodgers. He was good enough as he went 4.2 innings and gave up 2 runs. If not for 5 walks he would have gone longer.
His next game was game 4 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) (Dodgers were down 2-1 in games at the time) and Hill came out and pitched 5 innings, giving up only 1 run. He only threw 71 pitches so he could have gone longer.
The crowning moment for Rich Hill was his start for game 4 of the World Series on a Saturday night. With all of baseball watching, Hill went out and threw a gem. He didn’t give up a hit until one out in the 5thinning. When he was pulled the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead that the bullpen quickly gave away.
Against the best offense in baseball, Hill threw 6.1 innings, with 1 hit, 1 earned run (thanks to the bullpen), 3 walks and 7 strikeouts. He even struck out the last batter he faced before being pulled at 91 pitches. Despite a disastrous game after Hill left the game, most of baseball acknowledged what an amazing effort he had.
Rich Hill, with his animated presence and good performance, has become a fan favorite. The fact that he stepped up in the playoffs and, especially, the World Series has cemented him as a memorable figure for 2018. He’s a man who’s overcome so much and is easy to root for.
He will enter the 2019 season at the age of 39. With his age and blister history, there are some question marks, but he’ll work hard again to prove his worth.
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