Rich Hill Is Not A Fan Of The Shift

When he takes the mound, he’s intense.

Jim Rome
May 23, 2019 - 1:43 pm
Rich Hill

USA Today

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There was a time when the most controversial topics in baseball were: Pete Rose, astro turf, and the designated hitter. But now the Rose story is pretty tired, Astroturf is nearly gone, and the designated hitter isn’t going anywhere.

So now the debates have moved on to other exciting topics like pace of play, pitch clocks, robot umpires, and the shift.

Commissioner Rob Manfred is so opposed to defensive shifts, that he’s continually explored the possibility of limiting them or banning them. And now he can probably count on the vote of Dodger pitcher Rich Hill on that matter, because the Dodgers went with a shift yesterday against the Rays and Rich Hill did not like the results. Not one bleeping bit.

As a little background to set up this clip, let’s make something clear: Rich Hill is a hell of pitcher. He is tough as hell. He and his family have been through hell. And he absolutely battles. He was out of major league baseball back in 2015 and all he’s done since then is work his way back, and post the following season eras: 2.12, 3.32, 3.66, and this year’s 2.67. His postseason ERA is barely over 3.

He is good. Damn good. And when he takes the mound, he’s intense. How intense? Well, you’re about to hear.

Hill struck out the first two batters in the first inning and then Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi came to the plate. Two down and a lefty at the plate, the Dodgers went with the defensive shift, moving their infield to the right.

And Choi did what everyone says you should do in that situation, bunt down the third base line.

A word of warning before I play this clip, Hill gets spicy. Really really spicy. In fact, all you’re going to hear are bleeps.

Bleep!
Bleep!
Bleep!
GD!
Bleep!

Holy crap – did he give up a bunt single or did he get his foot caught in a bear trap?

Was that Rich Hill giving up a bunt single that was immediately erased or Christian Hackenburg playing in the Alliance?

That’s the best microphone on cursing action since Brad Stevens earlier this season.

And I know Stevens only lets one fly there, but for Stevens, that’s a full-blown R-rated film.

I’m still so impressed by Hill going with that heat in the first inning.

I haven’t heard someone get that worked up over something so minor since AJ Clemente made his TV debut in HIGH DEFINITION.

And the best part isn’t just that his rage was caught on mic, but that it was in Tampa and it felt like those curses were echoing throughout that giant park. 

And this is in the first inning. And he already had two outs. And he got the next batter out to end the inning with no damage. At least that’s what you think, but Hill doesn’t think that. Coming off the mound, if you read his lips he appears to be saying “the whole bleeping left side is bleeping wide open!”

Again, this is in the first inning. And he struck out the first two batters, gave up a cheap bunt, and got the cleanup hitter out. And my dude was raging. 

Afterwards, he was asked about the

"In my opinion, I don't like to see the entire left side of the field left open. I think hitters are getting better at understanding how to beat the shift. ... Guys are getting more savvy. We're trying to put our guys in position to have an optimal outcome. It's one of those things where you love it when it works and you hate it when it doesn't."

I don’t know if Hill hates it. It kind of feels like he’s on the fence about it. I’m going to need some more evidence before I know how he really feels.