Pirates @ Dodgers April 28, 2019: Rich Hill Debuts For The Sweep

The Dodgers (18-11), are on the verge of another sweep, as they beat the Pirates (12-13) again last night. The Pirates should’ve won that game, but Clint Hurdle (bullpen mismanagement) and Pedro Baez (supreme talent) both saved the Dodgers. Today marks the long awaited return of Russell Martin! Rich Hill also returns from the IL, making his season debut against Trevor Williams and the Pirates.

Pirates
Dodgers
1:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
2B
Frazier
LF
Pederson
LF
Cabrera
SS
Seager
RF
Polanco
3B
Muncy
1B
Bell
1B
Bellinger
3B
Kang
CF
Pollock
C
Diaz
RF
Verdugo
SS
Tucker 2B Hernandez
CF
Reyes
C
Martin
P
Williams (R)
P
Hill (L)

The Dodgers will continue to roll out their left-handed heavy lineup against the right-handed Williams. Justin Turner will rest as Max Muncy shifts over to third base. Martin will also give Austin Barnes the day off, as he’s been performing well as of late. Hopefully the rest allows him to keep that going moving forward. Enrique Hernandez will also start at second base over Chris Taylor.

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Williams (2.59 ERA, 3.48 FIP) has been solid for the Pirates thus far. He throws a ton of fastballs, 69.6% of the time last season, and 70.9% this year — both marks were the second highest among all starters. He pairs that with a slider and changeup, but doesn’t really produce many swings and misses. Among 124 starters with at least 20 innings pitched, his 16.8% strikeout rate is 111th. Overall he’s a good pitcher who typically won’t overpower an offense, but the offense still has to bring it as he doesn’t make many huge mistakes.

Hill is back! He suffered a strained MCL in March, and has worn a knee brace for the majority of the last month. In the second half of last season, Hill posted a 3.03 ERA and 3.28 FIP compared to 4.55 ERA and 4.93 FIP in the first half. Over that same stretch, he struck out 29.6% of the batters he faced, and allowed only a .187 batting average. This resulted in a 0.94 WHIP, and even though it’s been quite some time, hopefully Hill can build on what he was doing towards the end of 2018. He famously went six innings in his most recent extended spring training rehab start, recording 16 of his 18 outs by strikeout. Chad seems like he would’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing this.

Back in August of 2017, Hill technically threw a no-hitter against the Pirates, but the Dodgers ruined it because of course. The offense didn’t score over those nine innings, and Hill gave up a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th. Anyways, Hill apparently feels better than ever coming off of the IL, partly due to the knee brace he’s had to wear.

“It actually was even better. It forces me to throw the ball more correctly,” he said. “The quality of it is much better. It works even better than before. Now when the ball gets to a certain point, it takes a right turn. Silver lining.”

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This is definitely a good trend, especially with Hill and Clayton Kershaw rejoining this group.

This would be the most likely move to make room for Hill, and it would make sense for Caleb Ferguson to get some rest if the injury isn’t serious. This move has probably happened by the time you’re reading this.

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First pitch is at 1:10 PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Allan Yamashige
Just a guy living in Thousand Oaks, CA who happens to love the Dodgers and statistics. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about adults doing baseball is alright.