If Rich Hill only needs one knee to pitch this postseason then perhaps he is ready to go. Despite limping and wincing in pain, Hill tossed two scoreless frames against the Padres for the Dodgers on Tuesday night. He also contributed at the plate with a double. The Dodgers removed him after throwing two frames and making 35 pitches.
The Dodgers tabbed Hill with the start in the opening game of a three game series against the Padres at Petco Park. The Dodgers have already won 100 games and are on the verge of clinching home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. So this game’s outcome is completely meaningless other than to gauge Hill’s readiness for the postseason.
The Dodgers are going to need Hill. The pitching depth this year has been incredibly thin. Let’s be honest, the Dodger’s pitching staff just isn’t very good this year. The lineup is incredibly great but the pitching has been hit and miss, or mediocre. That’s why the club wins so many 7-4, 9-5, 10-4 type scores. Adding Hill back to the fold would be a huge boost for the boys in blue.
The Dodgers don’t have a reliable fourth starter this postseason. After Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu and Walker Buehler the Dodgers don’t have many attractive options. Hill has missed much of the season due to nagging injuries to his elbow and knee. Those maladies have limited him to just 53.2 innings pitched and 11 starts. He was wearing a knee brace during the game and the club held their collective breath that his elbow and knee would hold up.
Things looked a bit dicey early on. Hill was a bit shaky in the opening frame. He started by whiffing Manuel Margot. However consecutive walks to Nick Martini and Manny Machado made everyone nervous. Hill seemed to be having issue locating the fastball. However his trademark curve was still flummoxing opposing batters. After a force out on Eric Hosmer, Hill struck out Hunter Renfroe.
After doubling in the top of the second, Hill returned to the mound in the bottom half of the frame. Hill then struck out the side, getting Seth Mejias-Brean, Luis Torrens, and Luis Urias all to go down on strikes. Overall Hill allowed just two walks, no hits and struck out five across those two innings. Hill has posted a 2.59 ERA this season.
After the outing Hill was seen in good spirits in the dugout, before retiring to the bullpen to continue an extended session. For the record he sprinted out to the bullpen and one of the bullpen coaches was unable to keep up with him. Oh sure I’m certain that most of the guys on the field could have beaten him in a foot race, but he looked good. Hill’s health and participation this postseason is going to be key for the Dodgers. Hill has always been great in the postseason and is a fiery competitor. The Dodgers are going to need him considering they have just a three-man pitching staff and Kenley Jansen is in steep decline. Let’s hope that Hill is healthy enough to take the hill in October.