2017 Dodgers In Review: LHP Rich Hill

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP xFIP WAR
MLB 135.2 30.1 8.9  1.19 3.32 3.72  3.88  2.6

What Happened In 2017: Was hindered by blisters to start the year, but finished off the season strong.

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Rich Hill went down early in the season with the same blister issue that plagued him in 2016. He required two disabled list stints in April, after his first and second starts, respectively. Things didn’t look good at all.

Once Hill returned in mid-May, however, the blister evidently stopped being an issue. But the time off seemingly affected him. In his next seven starts, Hill never managed to pitch deeper than the fifth inning, and he allowed 19 runs (18 earned) in 32 innings pitched.

Things had firmly turned around for Hill by July, when he was recognized as the National League Pitcher Of The Month. In five starts that month, Hill allowed just five runs in 31 innings pitched, striking out 40 while allowing only five walks.

Then on Aug. 23, Hill pitched one of the best and most heartbreaking games of his career. He was perfect through eight innings in Pittsburgh, and made it nine without allowing a hit (though a baserunner did reach on a Logan Forsythe error). However, his teammates failed to scored any runs to back him up.

At just 95 pitches, Hill got to start the 10th inning. The first batter he faced, Josh Harrison, hit a home run, ending the no hitter, the shutout bid and the game with one swing.

Although Hill was shaky in his following start, he was great in September, allowing just six earned runs and posting 40 strikeouts (versus eight walks) in his final 29 IP of the regular season. All in all, 2017 ended up being a very good followup to Hill’s career-best season last year.

Hill was kept on a relatively short leash in his four postseason starts, with his longest outing being Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs (five innings, 79 pitches). He was mostly effective, though. In a total of 17.2 IP, Hill allowed five runs on 13 hits and eight walks while striking out 24.

What Hill deserves to be remembered for, as much as his pitching, is what he did in Game 6 of the World Series. In Yuli Gurriel‘s first game at Dodger Stadium following the racist gesture against Yu Darvish, the crowd doled out its vigilante justice against by booing him for the entire course of his at bat. Hill decided to help out by stepping off the mound to prolong the jeers.

Truly iconic.

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2018 Status: Entering his age-38 season and Year 2 of his 3-year, $48 million contract, Hill figures to be a significant part of the Dodgers’ rotation yet again.

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She now writes for The Hardball Times, FanGraphs and Sporting News, and co-hosts a podcast, The Hardball Times Audio. She recently earned her master’s degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor’s in History and a minor in American Studies. She’s an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.