What does Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill need to do today to win game two of the 2017 National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, October 15, 2017? Simple, he needs to pitch like its October 18, 2016! On October 18, 2016, lefty Rich Hill threw six scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out six and throwing 93 pitches. The Dodgers won game three.
His velocity hovered around 73-76 mph on his curveball and his fastball was at 89-91 mph. That 15-18 miles per hour difference is one key to his deceptiveness and success on the mound. If he falls below that range, batters find it easier to recognize and hit certain pitches. His sweet spot is the 18 mph difference (or a 73 mph curve ball and a 91 mph fastball) and the disparity makes it extremely difficult for batters to get comfortable in the box. According to Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes, that difference makes a 91 mph fastball look and feel like 96 mph.
Where Hill gets into to trouble is when he locates his pitches in the middle of the zone. He gets shelled there in opponent batting average (AVG), batting average on balls in play (BABIP), slugging percentage (SLG), on base plus slugging percentage (OPS), and yet he threw 12% of his pitches in the area that hurt him the most. He best pitch zone areas statistically are up in the zone, low in the zone, and inside and outside to a right-handed or left-handed batter.
Considering the above, here are Rich Hill’s Three Keys to Victory:
- First pitch strikes with his curveball, otherwise batters sit on his fastball, which he has traditionally demonstrated more control with;
- Curveball and fastball mix at a 55:45% split or thereabouts, with the higher preference to his curveball;
- Pitch to the outside parts of the strike zone (pitch framing and umpires can also help his cause here).
If Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill can accomplish the above on Sunday, the team will be heading to Chicago with a 2-0 series lead.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/nlds-game-3-5-keys-to-the-dodgers-success-in-arizona-je1083/2017/10/09/”]ICYMI: NLDS Game 3: 5 Keys To The Dodgers’ Success In Arizona[/button]