The 2015 Boston Red Sox had high hopes coming into the season. Highly paid acquisitions Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval were meant to contribute to one of the best lineups in baseball and the pitching was supposed to be, well, good enough to get by. Unfortunately an awful start from the pitching staff and slow starts from key cogs in the lineup put the Sox in a hole that they couldn’t climb out of.
When a team falters, some fans just turn off the TV and watch something else until the next season when spring training brings new hope to all 30 teams. Other fans keep watching, keeping a watchful eye on their players to see if they can improve and give them something to cheer for.
The Emergence of Rich Hill
Even though the Sox have had a disappointing season, much of the Red Sox roster gave fans plenty to look forward into next season. These players included Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, and David Ortiz. However, those players playing well wasn’t much of a surprise. Betts, Bogaerts, and Swihart were all highly touted prospects, and David Ortiz is David Ortiz. The player that was the biggest surprise performer down the stretch for the Red Sox has been veteran pitcher Rich Hill.
The 35-year-old was signed by the Nationals before the season and was released by one of their minor league affiliates in June. The Red Sox eventually picked up Hill in August and called him up to the big club in early September. Before this season, Hill hadn’t started a major league game since 2009 when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
In three starts this season for the Red Sox prior to Thursday, Hill was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA. His career ERA is north of four and a half, but in just three starts prior to Thursday, Hill has pitched 30 strikeouts, averaging 10 per game. In regards to strikeouts to walks, Hill has 15 strikeouts for every walk he has given up and has only given up roughly three hits per game in all three of his starts prior to Thursday.
In his mid-30’s no one can expect Hill to be an ace or even a reliable starter for the long term, but if he can perform half as good as he has with the Red Sox this season, he may give the Red Sox pitching staff some much needed stability headed into 2016.
Alternatively, even if Hill doesn’t break camp with the Sox next season, there is something awesome about a guy who hasn’t started in five years putting up Cy Young type numbers, even if it’s limited action.
Hill made his final start of the season Thursday night against the Yankees. In 6.0 innings, he gave up two earned runs, fanned six, walked three, and gave up four hits. Despite getting the loss, Hill was still able to keep his team in the game. Hopefully, this will help his chances of getting invited by the Red Sox to spring training and making the cut in 2016, and will give Red Sox fans another player to look forward to watching in 2016.