The Los Angeles Dodgers opted to start Rich Hill in Sunday’s season finale against the San Francisco Giants so they could save Walker Buehler for a potential Game 163 to decide the National League West, or the Wild Card Game.
The move ended up paying off as the Dodgers routed the Giants, 15-0, and Hill turned in one of his best outings of the season. Additionally, the Colorado Rockies beat the Washington Nationals to force a contest at Dodger Stadium that will determine an NL West champion and be a game Buehler start.
Hill hadn’t pitched in eight days before taking the mound on Sunday, but he looked as sharp as ever, tossing seven shutout innings on just 75 pitches while allowing just two hits and striking out seven without issuing any walks.
Some of the credit for Hill’s strong outing could be attributed to teammate Chase Utley though as according to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group, Utley spotted that Hill was tipping his pitches and helped him correct the issue:
“Chase is one of the best, if not the best, at picking up things,” Hill said, declining to be more specific than to say it involved the positioning of his glove during his windup.
Utley said he is always watching video of his team’s pitchers “just to see if there’s something I would use if I was facing them.” Hill’s tip was “pretty obvious,” Utley said.
“He basically has two pitches,” Utley said. “His fastball has good movement and his curveball never seems to stop breaking. So if you have an idea which of them is coming, that can be helpful.”
Hill turned in another strong season for the Dodgers, finishing with a team-high 11 wins compared to five losses in 25 games (24 starts). In 132.2 total innings, Hill struck out 150 compared to just 41 walks while posting a 3.66 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
With potential postseason starts on the horizon, Utley picked the perfect time to spot Hill tipping his pitches to get the issue corrected right away. Hill, along with Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu will be the Dodgers postseason rotation if they make it to a division series.