Rich Hill went into his start against the New York Mets on Wednesday night looking to avoid the command issues that have plagued him for much of this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers were in a 1-0 deficit a mere two pitches into the game.
But the Curtis Granderson home run was all the Mets managed against Hill. They did load the bases with nobody out in the fourth inning — partly due to a Chase Utley error — but left them full as Hill struck out the side.
Some of his success can be attributed to incorporating a new pitch that was part cutter, part slider. Hill consulted with Clayton Kershaw prior to unleashing the pitch in a game.
“Talking with Clayton in particular, just about how he throws it, I figured using that is such a good weapon when you’re in counts, behind, or runners on,” Hill explained.
“It can be a huge pitch that keeps you in the zone. It was the first time I’ve ever used it. Just something to continue to keep working on.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt believes the new weapon will aid Hill with his release point, which has been an issue this season. That’s just one benefit, of course.
“It’s something different. The book on him is fastball-curveball,” Roberts added. “But now add a little something for guys to think about.”
While the new pitch netted positive results, Hill remains focused on the bigger picture — his overall mechanics. “I think some of the thing is just being consistent with the delivery and not trying to do too much,” the veteran southpaw said.
“When I saw that, I mean not trying to overthrow or find a fastball that might not be there at this time. Realizing that and identifying it, I think is a huge step in the right direction. The biggest thing is just trying to stay as direct as possible to the plate. It might show up as lesser stuff, but you can’t sacrifice location for stuff.”