Dusty Baker has history with Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty Rich Hill, who was a Chicago Cub in 2005-2006 when Baker managed in the Windy City. Baker admitted he hadn’t seen the southpaw pitch in quite a while when the 67-year-old Washington Nationals’ skipper spoke to reporters about facing Hill in Game 2 of the NLDS with the Dodgers.
Hill has had a late-career resurgence since he moved back into a starting role in 2015 with the Boston Red Sox.
In 20 starts between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles this season, the 36-year-old left-hander was (12-5) with a 2.12 ERA, a 2.39 FIP, 33 BB (2.69 BB/9), 129 Ks (10.52 K/9) and a .194/.269/.261 line against in 110 1⁄3 innings.
Predominantly a two-pitch pitcher (curve/fastball), Hill’s held opposing hitters to a .180 AVG with his breaking ball and a .212 AVG on his fastball this season.
“I haven't seen Rich in years personally,” Baker said when asked how Hill has changed since their days together with the Cubs.
“You know, having success does matter, some, I mean, psychologically.
“But you know, I had Rich Hill in Chicago. And then he was a real young man at that time, and then he bounced around. I followed him in Boston and other places where he'd been. I mean, I'm glad for him, because he's a good kid -- not a kid anymore, but he's a fine young man.
“That being said, I'm rooting for him when we're not playing him. You always root for the guys that you had, especially when they were young. But also, I'm curious to see, is there any difference in him now and before, and I'm hoping that he can continue to have success.”
After today, of course, because, as Baker said, after losing Game 1 to the Dodgers, “... we need this game today.”
Baker sort-of joked before the series opener that he wanted umpires to keep an eye on Clayton Kershaw when runners reached base, suggesting that he balked when runners were on base.
With his history with Hill, a reporter asked, does he have anything will he tell the umps to look for this afternoon?
“No, come on, man,” Baker said with a laugh. “Well... all left-handers, you've got to keep an eye on them.
“Like I said, I haven't seen Rich in -- I haven't seen him pitch in years, but since you mentioned it, yeah, I'm going to go and look at some video and see what I can find.”
Here’s the lineup that the Nationals will send out against Hill and the Dodgers in Game 2: