Although Rich Hill dealt with blister trouble after joining the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2016 season, he was re-signed that winter to a three-year, $48 million contract. Hill was dogged by blisters again in 2017 but moved past them last season.
He’s now entering the final season of the contract signed with the Dodgers, figuring to factor heavily in their starting rotation. Assuming the club gets through Spring Training without injuries, the rotation should consist of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hill and Kenta Maeda.
With a successful 2018 campaign to build on, Hill stuck with the same offseason routine that called for beginning preparations well before the start of Spring Training.
He explained the process and benefit of throwing several bullpen sessions prior to reporting for camp, via SportsNet LA:
“One thing that I did a little differently was started throwing bullpens a little bit earlier. On Dec. 22, I started getting off of the mound. I got off the mound about a dozen times this offseason. Just to really keep up with my throwing program and kind of seamlessly continue to put in the work and make sure I’m as ready as possible to start the season this year. … I found that throwing a little bit earlier, for me the last two years, actually keeps my arm in better shape and I’m able to maintain a better baseline of strength going into the season.”
While the veteran left-hander took steps to better prepare himself for the rigors of a season, he struggled last April and May. It wasn’t until June and July that Hill began to find his momentum and turn in a productive campaign.
Hill’s 25 games (24 starts) last season tied for his most since appearing in 63 games out of the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians. Hill made 25 starts for the Dodgers in 2017.
Along with personal confidence, he’s confident the team has the talent and drive to get over the World Series hump this season.