Rich Hill recently chatted with WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the “Bradfo Sho” podcast — listen here — and touched on a number of topics, including the veteran pitcher’s crazy baseball journey and his mindset on the mound.
The Los Angeles Dodgers hurler also revealed an interesting nugget about Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, which he started but exited before the Boston Red Sox’s epic comeback: He almost didn’t receive the starting nod from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
As you might recall, Hill pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just one hit and three walks while striking out seven. Roberts removed Hill with Los Angeles leading 4-0 but later revealed he would’ve kept the left-hander in the game had he not immediately handed over the baseball during a one-out mound visit.
Either way, the move proved disastrous for the Dodgers, as Scott Alexander entered the game and issued a walk to Brock Holt. Ryan Madson then toed the rubber for Los Angeles and surrendered a three-run home run to Mitch Moreland. Steve Pearce launched a game-tying homer in the eighth inning, and the Red Sox ultimately won 9-6 to take a 3-1 series lead.
All told, it’s notable for Hill to mention he almost didn’t start Game 4. The Dodgers initially listed their Game 4 starter as “TBD” after their 18-inning win in Game 3 — the Red Sox did, too — and according to the veteran southpaw, Los Angeles considered using a reliever to start the contest. Hill presumably would have pitched in relief in that scenario, but he didn’t know until the morning of the game that he’d end up starting.
“For me, look, at the time, I understand. I’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win. That’s who I am. That’s who I have always been,” Hill told Bradford. “It’s just, at the time, I’m not 100 percent sure — I wasn’t onboard 100 percent at that time for coming out of the bullpen in the second inning as opposed to just starting the game.
“There’s a rhythm, there’s a flow to the game that the starting pitcher knows and gets into, and I don’t know if the World Series is necessarily the time to actually … It was up in the air.”
Obviously, Hill wasn’t affected too much by the late notice. He pitched very well, giving the Dodgers an excellent chance to tie the series, but the bullpen imploded. Still, it’s strange that Roberts left the 38-year-old hanging in the balance. The presumption was that Los Angeles’ “TBD” simply was some gamesmanship in response to Boston’s “TBD” starter designation.
“It is funny because I think that that’s kind of the part you have to adjust as you get older,” Hill told Bradford. “My wife and I have been all over the place playing, and we’ve been to hell and back and we’re here. So really being affected by pitching or starting or whatever in the World Series is really a very minuscule thing compared to many things that are going on. I think that’s something I’ve been able to adjust to and understand to just be ready and stay ready.”
Good thing Hill stayed ready. Otherwise, the Dodgers never would’ve stood a chance in Game 4.