LOS ANGELES — The Merriam-Webster dictionary should add a listing to its definitions of the word “peripatetic.” As in, “See Rich Hill.”
Hill, the veteran left-hander for the Los Angeles Dodgers, starts Saturday’s second game of the series against the San Francisco Giants. He’s been around long enough for most baseball fans to know the name, but few seriously understand exactly how long and varied his career has been.
Hill (7-4, 3.48 ERA) is in his 13th season, and has played for eight different major league teams, not including two that signed him but never used him in the majors. His minor league stops touch all corners of the country, from Montana to Daytona to Portland (Maine) to Stockton.
In his 13 seasons, he has a 45-32 record. He has been on a major league roster for an entire season just twice, in 2007 (Cubs) and 2013 (Indians). That year with the Cubs, he got the chance to start and went 11-8. That year in Cleveland, he was a one-out specialist and pitched 38 2/3 innings in 63 games.
His most notable stop may have been with the Long Island Ducks in 2015. He had been released by Washington, and decided then he’d return to the majors as a starter, period. That meant playing for the Ducks, an independent team in Islip, New York.
“I was at home for about a month and worked out with the American Legion team that I grew up playing for,” Hill said. “I felt strong. I threw a few 75-pitch bullpens and made the decision to go to Long Island and start again. And made two starts there and felt good. I was able to repeat my delivery.”
Boston, where he had pitched in parts of four seasons, took a flyer on him as a starter late in 2015. He made four starts, all quality, including a complete-game shutout. Oakland signed him for 2016, traded him to the Dodgers in a pennant deal, and now he’s part of the hottest team in baseball. A baseball lifer found success at the age of 37.
Hill has made nine career starts against the Giants, with a 3-2 record and 2.62 ERA, including a five-inning winning effort this season.
His opponent, Ty Blach (6-6, 4.50) is a neophyte in comparison. Blach made four appearances in 2016 and was in the bullpen in 2017 when ace Madison Bumgarner had his accident. He’s made 16 starts and 10 have been quality efforts, making him one of the bright spots in an otherwise low-wattage season.
“It makes life a lot easier,” Bochy said about Blach stepping up at a tough time. “It’s going to be critical for Blach to get us deep into games and give us a quality starts to help get this thing turned around.”
“You just go out there and make pitches. If you get a strikeout, great,” Blach said about his methodology. “You’re just trying to let them put the ball in play.”
Blach has made four appearances against the Dodgers, three of them starts, and owns a 2-1 record with a 1.17 ERA.