Back to the Basics:
The anchor in Hill’s arsenal since his reemergence in 2015, has been the curveball. His ability to throw the pitch with elite spin rate, from different arm angles, and consistently for strikes when he’s both ahead or behind in the count has contributed to his ability to be a formidable number 2 behind Clayton Kershaw. In seasons past, he’s led the league in curveball usage, using it to setup the success of his high 80’s fastball (in 2017 only Jacob deGrom had a higher 4 seam fastball whiff rate).
By all indications, in 2018 Hill’s curveball is still an elite pitch. Although the whiff rate on the pitch is below league average, he’s still inducing soft contact, and he’s actually improved on the ground ball rate from .46 to .50 per BIP. He’s maintained the ability to consistently throw the pitch for a strike, and throw it in a variety of counts – keeping hitters off balance with the ~15 mph difference between the two pitches.
It’s very possible that scouting reports on Rich Hill have evolved with his increasing proclivity to use the fastball; perhaps hitters realize that the curveball is a pitch they are less likely elevate and hit hard – so instead they are waiting, seeing, and hitting his fastball better than they ever have. If this is the case, Hill would benefit from increasing the usage of his mesmerizing curveball – and returning to the pitch that proved so valuable in his resurgence as an elite MLB pitcher.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://dodgersnation.com/dodgers-defeat-diamondbacks-with-a-little-bit-of-luck-bs0193/2018/05/10/”]Dodgers Defeat Diamondbacks With a Little Bit of Luck[/button]