In August 2015, Rich Hill was pitching in independent ball after a long, mostly unremarkable career. He hadn't started a major league game since 2009. Then he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox, impressed in four starts, signed a one-year deal with the Athletics, impressed even more, and was traded to the Dodgers to be their postseason No. 2 starter. By the end of the 2016 season, he had a 2.00 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 24 starts since that Red Sox deal. Unfortunately, he also missed significant time with a groin strain and blisters, the latter of which forced the Dodgers to limit his innings and pull him after seven innings of a potential perfect game. The driving force behind his reinvention is a monster curveball he throws for nearly half his pitches, dropping it in at any point in the count and from multiple arm angles. The injuries remain a major red flag for the 36-year-old, but he's found a unique way to prevent runs at an elite level.
Hill signed a three-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers on Monday, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports. Hill will turn 37 years old before next season begins, but the Dodgers are confident he has a few good years left in him and decided to extend what was a brief stint with the club at the end of last season. It remains to be seen exactly where Hill will slot into what figures to be a deep Dodgers rotation in 2017, but -- if healthy -- he is seemingly the favorite to head into the year as the No. 2 starter behind ace Clayton Kershaw.
Hill appears to be close to resigning with the Dodgers, according to Peter Gammons. The rumored deal would be for three years and $40M, a nice lift from the $6M, one-year deal he had for the 2016 season. Hill will turn 37 before the start of the 2017 season. His numbers were even better after being traded to the Dodgers, sporting a 1.83 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over six starts.
Hill will start Game 3 of the NLCS on Tuesday, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports. This comes as no surprise after Clayton Kershaw was announced as the Game 2 starter. Hill can start Game 3 on normal rest and would line up to start a potential Game 7.
Hill will start Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday against the Nationals, David Vassegh of AM 570 Los Angeles Sports reports. There had been speculation that Julio Urias would take the mound for the Dodgers if they arrived at Game 5. However, they'll deploy Hill for the second time this series in the upcoming winner-take-all contest. In his first outing versus Washington in the NLDS, Hill picked up a loss while allowing four runs over 4.1 innings.
Hill (3-2) allowed one run on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over five innings in a loss Tuesday to the Giants. Hill was solid, as he drew 10 swinging strikes over 77 pitches in five innings, but the Dodgers couldn't score a single run for him. He was pinch-hit for after just five innings, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Dodgers pinch-hit for him early again down the stretch. Hill has a 1.53 ERA, but he has made just five starts since returning from injury and the Dodgers have a large bullpen thanks to expanded rosters if they're facing a close game, as they were Tuesday night.