The Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation took shape more than one week before Opening Day, as it was announced Clayton Kershaw would be followed by Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu to begin the season.
All the starters are now built up and ready for the regular season, as Ryu became the final starter to throw five innings in a game on Thursday night when he gave up just one run in the win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Hill’s most recent outing came in a Minor League game on Tuesday, as he threw six innings against the Chicago White Sox. It was a bounce-back game for the southpaw, as he managed to record just one out in a prior Cactus League start.
Hill explained he used the outing on a backfield at Camelback Ranch to work on a slider that he previously hand’t thrown this year, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“There wasn’t much besides the wind that was bothering me,” Hill said. “The ball came out of my hand, I threw some back-door sliders to righties, which I haven’t been using at all this spring.”
In addition to working on the back-door slider, Hill also said that he tested out a brand new pitch:
“I started messing with a split-finger, but that’s something that will progress during the season,” Hill said. “It was just really good one day, and I thought I might use it in the season. Now is a perfect time to do it. The other three pitches, it was a good day.”
Hill mainly utilizes a two-pitch mix of fastballs and curveballs in his arsenal, with an occasional slider mixed in. He previously said he was focused on perfecting the two, which are thrown at various arm angles and velocities.
If Hill can develop a serviceable split-finger pitch to mainly throw to right-handed hitters, then he will be much better of a pitcher moving forward. Although, it seems like he still has a ways to go before being confident in effectively using it in a Major League game.