The return of Rich Hill

June, 2, 2009
6/02/09
5:40
PM ET
Josh Q. Public notes the resurgence of a certain curveballing southpaw:
    Public Service Announcement: Ok, here we go! Remember Rich Hill? Remember the guy who led some to speculate that he was taking over as the ace in the Cubs rotation while he assembled a streak of eighteen consecutive innings without an earned run? Remember the guy who called AJ Pierzynski gutless? The guy whose curveball Michael Barrett said, "is so electric that the first couple of times I caught him, I had a tendency to come up on the curve because it bites so much. You just don't see a left-handed curveball like that anymore. When he's good, it doesn't hang, and it's nearly unhittable.” Well folks, he was almost unhittable again last night.

    --snip--

    Last night, Rich Hill allowed two hits over seven innings in the Orioles' 1-0 win at Seattle. Big deal you say? Who cares you say? I say it was the first time Hill held his opponent scoreless over the first seven innings since he did so five times over a period of nine starts in September 2006 and April 2007. I say in 2006, Hill's two complete games were the only CG's by the Cub's pitching staff in that season. After having problems finding the strike zone in '08, Rich was ultimately sent down to Single-A. His career appeared over.

    Rich Hill has found new life with this O's team and he's making the most of it. Hill: ”The opportunity that I'm getting is a second chance, and you've got to make the most of it. "To be able to come to the ballpark, to compete and be a Major League baseball player is something that you don't take for granted after the course of events that happened last year.” This year, however, Rich Hill is good again.

Good? Maybe. I think "adequate" would be a satisfactory way-station at the moment, though. When Hill was good, with the Cubs, he walked 3.2 batters per nine innings and struck out 8.3. Those numbers work. When Hill was awful -- last year with the Cubs and in the minors -- he walked nearly as many batters as he struck out. Those numbers don't work.

And this year? He's somewhere in the middle. Before the Orioles called him up, he struck out 17 in 165 minor-league innings, but walked nine. In his four starts with the big club, he's struck out 22 in 22 innings, but walked 12. Granted, he was impressive last night against the Mariners, but that's just one game and the M's are last in the league in walks. Aside from the Mariners, Hill has started against the Royals, the Nationals, and the Blue Jays. Predictably enough, he pitched well against the Royals and the Nats but got manhandled by the Jays.

So, yeah: Rich Hill is back. I always figured he would make it. But that guy we saw in 2007? He's not back yet, and I'm not at all sure that he'll ever be.

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