After avoiding elimination earlier in the week, the Los Angeles Dodgers look to do so winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series, and again turn to a left-hander on short rest. Just as Rich Hill said would be the case, he was tabbed to start opposite Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
The Dodgers officially announced their decision Thursday morning. Conversely, Washington elected not to run Scherzer out in Game 4, so he takes the mound on five days’ rest. For Hill, a 12-year veteran, the postseason start is just the third of his career.
It’s the first time, regular season included, he’s pitching on short rest. “This is why you play. There’s no holding back or anything like that,” Hill said after Game 4. “I know it’s short rest, but physically I feel great.”
The only instance remotely similar to this situation came in 2009 when Hill was with the Baltimore Orioles. He threw 20 pitches and recorded one out in relief, then started four days later. Hill went three innings, allowed five runs and issued four walks.
“With the short rest, I don’t really account for that,” he said. “You go out there and do your job. That’s it. Stay in the moment, that’s the biggest thing.”
“The pitch to Lobaton, and a few other curveballs that stayed up (in Game 2), I just need to execute better. Really, just continue to go out there and compete.”
Clayton Kershaw, who in Game 4 started on short rest in the postseason a fourth time in his career, doesn’t have any qualms over whether Hill will succeed in the unfamiliar circumstance. “I think Rich will be fine,” Kershaw said.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can tell him. He’s as competitive as they come. If you want to be out there you’ll be fine. That’s what it comes down to, and I think he really wants to be out there.”