What Happened In 2017: Was hindered by blisters to start the year, but finished off the season strong.
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 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.
Here's why Rich HIll took his time on the mound to pitch to Yuli Gurriel: pic.twitter.com/Kk24OLTuAT
— JT (@___JXT) November 1, 2017
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.