The Los Angeles Dodgers fortified the front end of their starting rotation during the offseason by re-signing Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract. It marked the first such deal of Hill’s career.
The veteran left-hander opened the spring with two scoreless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. Hill pitched with strong fastball command and spun multiple curveballs that left batters flummoxed.
But in his two Cactus League starts since that point, Hill has failed to make it out of the second inning both times. On Wednesday, facing the same Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park, he walked four of 10 batters faced.
Hill explained to Kelli Tennant of SportsNet LA what went wrong and how he intends to get back on track:
“I felt good early, and then I just kind of lost [the release point] with the fastball. I threw some good fastballs, curveball wasn’t where I would like it. I just have to keep working. As Spring Training goes, it’s just to continuously keep working and keep trying to perfect your craft.”
Struggles during Spring Training are nothing new for the 36-year-old. He owns a career 5.88 ERA in 104 innings pitched during the spring. Last year, Hill pitched to a career-worst 11.25 ERA in four starts for the Oakland Athletics.
He fared much better during the regular season, though Hill told Tennant it was not until his third start last season where he felt fully comfortable. “You need to see results in Spring Training,” Hill added.
Next for Hill presumably is a start on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Tempe Diablo Stadium. He’ll enter the outing with a 12.60 ERA and having issued six walks in his past three innings pitched.