Rich Hill was twice put on the 10-day disabled list in April, failed to reach the sixth inning in his first nine starts this season, and looked nothing of the pitcher who commanded a three-year, $48 million contract during winter.
Hill’s past three starts, however, are in line with what the veteran southpaw accomplished with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Hill’s attributed the turnaround to a streamlined windup that’s much more similar to pitching out of the stretch.
It’s allowed him to maintain better consistency with mechanics and delivery. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also credited a change in Hill’s outward demeanor.
“His internalizing or controlling his emotions is much better over the last three or four starts,” Roberts explained. “I think that, with the delivery abbreviation, has really been the difference.”
Hill on Thursday night went seven innings for a third consecutive start. He held the Arizona Diamondbacks to one run — on a Jake Lamb homer — and allowed a mere two hits. Hill issued one walk and finished with nine strikeouts, his second-highest total of the year.
Hill’s message was consistent with his remarks throughout the year. “The ball is coming out of my hand the way I want it to,” Hill said.
“The biggest thing is staying in the pitch-to-pitch process and not get too ahead of yourself or think about the pitches that may not have come out of your hand the way you wanted to.
“Finding my mechanics was the biggest thing probably a week-and-a-half ago. It led into the first outing, second outing, and now tonight. When you can find the consistency in those mechanics you’re able to execute a lot more efficiently in the zone.”
Over his past three starts, Hill has allowed four runs on 10 hits, walked three and collected 27 strikeouts in 21 innings.