Dodgers News: Tempo And Rhythm Keys To Success For Rich Hill
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Hill was nearly perfect in his two innings of work against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, but much like Clayton Kershaw after his first start of the spring, the veteran left-hander noted there is room for improvement.

“Nineteen of the 22 balls came out of my hand the way I wanted them to,” Hill said. “That can obviously be improved. It’s good to start that creative process earlier. That was there today, so that was good. Right now, it’s working on the tempo and rhythm of the game.”

Hill issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning on five pitches. However, he erased reigning stolen base leader Jonathan Villar from the basepaths with a deceptive pickoff move. “We’ve been working on the pick-offs in Spring Training. Again, it’s that tempo, rhythm and timing,” Hill said.

“You might see a pick-off move that looks pretty standard. But what you don’t see is maybe a little hesitation in the timing or extra second in the hold, slide step to the plate mixed in with a longer, hesitated kick to the plate. I don’t have a great pick-off move, but I can hold the ball, slide step to the plate, hesitate, do all sorts of things to alleviate some of those things I don’t do well.”

While the pick-off move may be a work in progress for Hill, his curveball was in midseason form. The Brewers were particularly befuddled by it in the second inning, as Hernan Perez and Scooter Gennet both struck out.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to spin a baseball. You can’t really teach a guy to throw 95 miles an hour, but if you have a feel for spin, I think you can teach them how to improve a breaking ball,” Hill explained.

“For me, I’ve always been able to do that so I’ve been fortunate in that regards. The faster you can get your rhythm and tempo down, the more efficient and consistent you can be. It’s not about throwing a better curveball, it’s throwing a consistent curveball. From there you can start to play with the shape of it.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called Hill’s start a “good first outing.” As for off-the-field matters, Hill’s teammates recently began a social media push in effort to help him gain more followers on Instagram.

Hill’s account lacked a profile picture at the time, and remains private. He’s in no rush to grow his following on the platform. “I got a, what is it called, a profile picture? So I got that up,” Hill said with a laugh.

“It’s one day at a time. I told the guys it was like taking vanilla ice cream to Baskin-Robbins and got all 32 flavors, then went down the street to Cold Stone and dumped all the toppings on it. I just got off the flip phone.”