Once tracking to starting on Opening Day for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rich Hill instead joined Clayton Kershaw in beginning the 2019 season on the 10-day injured list. Hill suffered a strained MCL in his left knee and didn’t debut until the end of April.
Despite assertions he was prepared to be activated after making just one rehab start, Hill was scheduled for a second exhibition outing that ultimately came in extended Spring Training at Camelback Ranch because inclement weather didn’t allow for his schedule to align with a Minor League affiliate’s.
Hill’s anticipated return was met with mixed results, and that’s followed him in two ensuing stars. The latest of which came in a 6-0 loss to the Washington Nationals.
After the game, Hill expressed frustration over straying from a curveball and plan of attack that historically has paid off for him, via SportsNet LA:
“I think getting away from my gameplan a little bit, is frustrating as far as having a certain style of pitching. I think one pitch that was bad on my part was the cutter in to Rendon. Obviously, you’ve him in a situation to put him away, and not sticking with your strength is something that is frustrating. But also, the pitch to Howie, just again left it middle.
“In my opinion the curveball can stand on its own. What I mean by that is it’s not necessarily something you have to feed into a scouting report. It’s plenty good of a pitch for me to use over and over again. We started doing that more and I was able to keep us in the ballgame.”
Hill’s troubles began two pitches into the game as he surrendered a leadoff double to Adam Eaton. He then hit Anthony Rendon on a 1-2 count and followed that by allowing a three-run home run to Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick joined former Dodgers Yasiel Puig and Manny Machado in hitting a homer in their first matchup this season. For Hill, it marked a third consecutive start in which he’s allowed a first-inning home run. Overall, he’s surrendered five across 15 innings pitched.
Hill’s ERA in the first inning increased to 15.00, but remains 1.50 after that. Keeping with what held true in his two prior starts, Hill managed to settle in some and escape trouble as the game wore on. He nonetheless was tabbed with a loss in his first decision this year.