Rich Hill pitched in a game tonight, for the first time since a Spring Training game on March 17. During that last start he injured his knee near the end of the start and was initially expected to miss two weeks. However, we are at April 17 and Hill is just starting his rehabilitation. The injury also cost him a shot at his first Opening Day start which would have been really cool for the 39 year old pitcher. After tonight’s start the Dodgers will determine whether he needs another rehab assignment or will his next start be with the Dodgers.
Current Starting Pitcher Situation
The Dodgers are starting to get some good starts from the starting pitchers. After only 4 quality starts (6 innings or more with 3 earned runs or less) in their first 16 games, the Dodgers realed off 4 straight excellent starts. Hyun-Jin Ryu could be ready to pitch this weekend against the Brewers.
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s bullpen went well. Ready to rejoin #Dodgers rotation “potentially” in Milwaukee series
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 16, 2019
The quicker all the starters return the quicker the bullpen gets better. We know Julio Urías will be in the bullpen to limit his innings and probably Ross Stripling. A starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Hill would be strong with not only Stripling and Urías in the wings but also Tony Gonsolin and Dennis Santana in AAA.
Dave Roberts said Rich Hill will make a rehab start Wednesday in either Rancho or OKC. 4 innings/60 pitches.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) April 14, 2019
The Dodgers and Rich Hill decided to have his first rehab start in Lake Elsinore against the Storm while pitching for the Quakes. The Storm started their top pitching prospect, MacKenzie Gore so it was well worth the trip from San Diego to see this matchup. Gerardo Carrillo (#18 prospect according to MLB Pipeline) was scheduled to follow Hill on the mound for the Quakes.
According to Baseball Savant, the velocity for Hill on his four-seam fastball was 89.4 MPH and his curveball was 74.6 MPH in 2018. The velocities are an obvious thing to watch but also the difference in velocity between the two pitches. He also hurt his knee while dropping down to throw side-arm. Will he still work in that pitch?
During the game Hill’s fastball was up to 91-92 MPH many times and the curve sat between 74 and 75 MPH. He threw 4 innings and gave up 2 hits with 8 strikeouts. Everything looked good and he was able to execute every pitch. The other media folks here at the game were all impressed with what they saw. He only gave up two hits, one being a bunt single by the first batter. The grunts were there, the awesome follow through, the dropping down to the side and the intensity. Something else to note is that he acted as part of the team. He was rooting on the Quakes players and congratulating them when they did something well. In his post-game interview he specifically mentioned how good it was to have Connor Wong as his catcher and that he is very impressed with the talent on the Quakes.
After his 4 inning stint Hill then went to the bullpen to throw another inning’s worth of work. Gerardo Carrillo replaced Hill after 4 innings and was hitting 97 MPH. He ended up throwing 4.2 innings with 5 Ks, 2 walks, 4 hits and 2 earned runs. The Quakes eventually won the game 4-2 with Carrillo getting the win and Jordan Sheffield getting the save.
Hill will finish his evening in the Rancho bullpen and throw a few pitches to put a bow on it. He's officially done after 4 eye-popping innings. 54 pitches/38 strikes. two hits allowed, no walks and 12345678 strikeouts. Gerardo Carrillo takes over in the 5th, up 2-0.#Dodgers
— Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (@RCQuakes) April 18, 2019
Scout in attendance said Hill was “vintage” and looked ready to return. Fastball was 89-91. Plus curveball. https://t.co/StilqLODOw
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) April 18, 2019
Rich Hill Postgame Interview – "I don't know what the numbers said or what the spin rates were, but I know how the ball is supposed to come out of my hand. I'm ready."
— Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (@RCQuakes) April 18, 2019
I was able to participate in a media scrum to interview Rich. He provides as much energy and intensity to his interviews as he does to his performance on the field. He took a wide range of questions from Jim Alexander from The Southern California News Group, Ron Cervenka from Think Blue LA, and myself.
Rich’s Message To The Fans
The Full Interview
Getting out to see the major league players do their rehabs with the Quakes is one of my favorite things about this job. It is a chance for the fans to get closer to the players than at Dodger Stadium, with possible autograph opportunities. It isn’t often you see such a dominant performance during a rehab assignment, but Rich Hill was that. Hill thinks he’s ready and most of us that watched think so also. It will be up to the Dodgers to determine the next steps. Rich believes he is ready to throw a hundred pitches, and with what we saw tonight, the Dodgers should have him start one of the game against the Cubs. My guess is Tuesday, April 23. Dick Mountain is ready to return!
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