Dodgers Gamble on Rich Hill’s Health

The Dodgers officially agreed to a 3-year, $48 million deal with free agent starter Rich Hill on Monday, starting their winter meetings off with a bang. Hill is a curve-ball maestro coming off a career best season that saw him post a 2.12 ERA in 110 1/3 innings after signing out of the independent league a year earlier. Hill will help shore up the Dodgers rotation, filling the “second ace” gap that many so desperately desired.

Hill’s presence in the Dodgers rotation is far from a sure thing. He’s dealt with much publicized blister issues that he swears are behind him, and has said that he feels 30 starts in a year is an attainable goal.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://dodgersnation.com/dodgers-re-sign-rich-hill-to-3-year-contract/2016/12/05/”]Dodgers Re-Sign Rich Hill to a 3 Year Deal[/button]

He speculate all he wants and he’ll have every chance to prove his durability on the field in 2017.

It’s hard to argue that Hill is anything short of “extremely effective” when he is healthy. His near 30% strike out rate in 2016 is elite and it is backed by his strongly above average walk rate of 7.5%. He throws his curve and fastball almost equally with the ability to change arm slots effectively on both pitches, and hitters slug a paltry .243 against his now famous curve.

The big “if” on Rich Hill is his health, and that’s what the Dodgers will be gambling on. His career high in innings pitched is 195, way back in 2007 with the Cubs. Since then, he threw 160 innings combined from 2008 until 2015 before hurling 110.1 in 2016. If he can maintain his current peripherals and throw around 150 innings, it would be a huge boon to a Dodgers rotation that only had 1 member (Maeda) eclipse that mark in 2016.

The gamble on Hill’s health is very low risk and high reward. If Hill can’t live up to his end of the bargain, the Dodgers are on the hook for $12mil in 2017, $16 mil in 2018 and $18mil in 2019, per the AP. These numbers can look heavy at first glance, but if Hill pitches like he has, they would represent a huge bargain. With the decrease in disabled list time under the new CBA (15-day to 10-day), the Dodgers can easily shuffle Hill on and off the DL to provide extra rest if needed. The depth of pitching within the organization will allow this risk to be easily mitigated. If Hill were to need a DL stint, pitchers like Jose De Leon, Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart, Trevor Oaks or Chase De Jong could easily step in a fill a spot start or two and that list doesn’t include the ability of swingman Vidal Nuno.

In addition to being a strong performer, Hill is just downright fun to watch. Between his swinging leg kicks, fist pumps and his fiery mound energy, his starts should be must watch TV in Los Angeles for those that have the ability. There is no doubt that this deal makes the Dodgers better in 2017, and helps ease fans worries in regard to the package the Dodgers gave up to acquire Hill from the Athletics.


  1. It all comes down to this, I am OK with him returning based upon who was out there in this year’s thin FA market.  any trades for a front line pitcher would have most likely cost a ton of top prospects.  So to sum it up, WSS. (We shall see)

  2. I’m going on the record as saying it’s a mistake! Look at their rotation in the next 3 yrs, too many lefthanders. I would have opted to trade with some pitching  prospects since there isn’t room for all of them anyway. There are a few who I would not trade and maybe Freidman knows already that it would take those specific players to make a trade. 
    So I’ll admit It. Not privy to whats behind the scenes but on paper its not how I would build a rotation given who we have now and waiting in the wings.

  3. I think this is a good move because it gives the Dodgers a temporary #2 starter who is good enough to help the Dodgers make another run at the division. I say temporary because the Dodger could still pull off a trade for another top pitcher like Sale or Archer, prior to the season or during the season. If the Dodgers don’t land another top arm by Trade deadline that means that Maeda and Urias are throwing well enough to go into the post season as starters #3 and #4. Also with Kazmir and McCathy eating up innings that means Urias can be limited to innings.

  4. BCRobitaille  I think it’s going to be hard to move Kazmir and MacCarthy.  Most teams want prospects.  One concern is injuries.  Someone in the starting rotation will get hurt sooner or later, let pray it’s not serious. When they do, that’s when its nice to have veterans like Kazmir and McCarthy.  Other pitchers like Stripling, Stewart and De Leon could be used if they haven’t been traded.

  5. It’ll be hard but not impossible. The Dodgers will definitely have to eat some money on those contracts. I much rather give De Leon a shot in the rotation, with Stewart and Stripling as depth, unless as you point out, they get traded first.

  6. Arodc03 BCRobitaille
    I still would just as soon give JDL, Stewart and Stripling the chance if injuries occur again in rotation.

  7. I think your right, Dodgers would definitely have to eat some money for trading Kazmir and/or McCarthy which is horrible paying for a player that’s not on your team. Every time I see Matt Kemp in a San Diego/Atlanta uniform I shake my head.

  8. Arodc03 BCRobitaille
    At this point, I would rather give those starts to JDL, Stewart, Stripling. We have the depth and if they can move Mac and Kaz with paying some of their $$$ so be it.

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