After some inconsistency in Spring Training and work to incorporate a new pregame routine, Rich Hill faced further adversity early into the 2018 season as he was put on the 10-day disabled April 18 due to inflammation in his left middle finger.
Given his history with blisters, most assumed Hill’s trouble stemmed from that. However, it was because of a cracked fingernail. Hill was twice delayed in returning and struggled in his first start off the DL.
He was removed in the first innning of his next outing because of the all-too-familiar blister trouble and wound up on the DL a second time. Hill petitioned MLB to wear protective tape but predictably was denied.
He was activated after spending one month on the disabled list and largely remained healthy from that point on. Hill came out of a July start in part because of neck tightness, but it was not enough to keep him out of the rotation.
The veteran left-hander wasn’t overly dominant but finished the season 11-5 with a 3.66 ERA, 3.97 FIP and 1.12 WHIP in 25 games, with all but one being a start. He then made three starts and one relief appearance during the postseason.
His starts came in respective Game 4s of the National League Division Series, NL Championship Series and World Series. The Dodgers won two of those three, with Hill pitching progressively better as the rounds progressed.
In five starts out of the All-Star break, he went 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA and held opponents to a .194/.267/.324 batting line during that stretch. One of the outings saw Hill throw seven shutout innings and strike out eight against the Atlanta Braves.
Hill is entering the final season of a three-year, $48 million contract. He figures to serve as the fourth starter in what’s expected to be a deep rotation.