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Rich Hill: A 40-Year Old Mr. October?

Twins fans have been waiting for the club to add the impact starting-pitching the front office mentioned at the beginning of the offseason. However, adding Homer Bailey and Rich Hill left fans feeling underwhelmed. Hill will turn 40 in March and he won’t be able to take the mound until June after elbow surgery. Can the Twins ride Hill into the playoffs and turn him into their own Mr. October?
Image courtesy of © Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Playoff Experience
Hill is no stranger to the playoffs as he has pitched for the Dodgers in each of the last four postseasons. This includes multiple World Series starts even though Los Angeles ended up falling short in both appearances. This still takes nothing away from what Hill has been able to do in October.

Hill has made 12 career postseason starts and 13 appearances overall. For his career, he has a 3.06 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP and a 65 to 32 strikeout to walk ratio. His 11.0 SO/9 is higher than his career mark of 9.6 SO/9 and he has given up fewer hits and home runs per nine innings in the playoffs.

His 53-playoff innings isn’t exactly a large sample size, but it is a lot of innings when compared to other pitchers currently on the Twins staff. His age could be a concern but using the first half of the season to rehab could keep him healthy and performing well into October.

40-Year Old Pitchers
Few pitchers find success into their age-40 season and the pitchers at the top of the WAR list are a who’s who of baseball’s best pitchers. According to FanGraphs, the top age-40 seasons for pitchers have been from Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Cy Young, John Smoltz, Dutch Leonard, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. Hill isn’t exactly in the same category as those players.

Those players also found minimal playoff success in their age-40 season. In fact, Clemens and Maddux were the only players in the group to make the playoffs. Maddux made one start in the 2006 NLDS against the Mets and allowed four earned runs in four innings. Clemens made four starts in the 2003 playoffs as the Yankees went all the way to the World Series. His best start in those playoffs came against the Twins as he allowed one earned run on five hits across seven innings.

Hill is a wild card in the Twins ultimate plan to win back-to-back AL Central titles. When he has been healthy, he has been very good, but those opportunities have been few and far between. Hill could provide a boost to the club in the second half, but it seems unlikely for him to be a the impact pitcher the Twins will need in October.

What are your expectations for Hill? Will he provide anything for the Twins in the playoffs? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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29 Comments

Why are we even talking about this club and October at this point? Shouldn’t we be more focused on the minuscule amount of money, relative to MLB budgets, that we’ve saved in 2023? I’ve been told here that’s the most important thing.
    • Tomj14 and SpicyGarvSauce like this
Will he provide anything for the Twins in the playoffs? Short answer, no. Long answer, also no.
Baseball history is filled with slop balling lefties that pitch well at older ages. The real question is whether Hill will take the mound
    • jorgenswest and Battle ur tail off like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Jan 05 2020 02:35 PM
Hill has to be healthy first and foremost and that’s not even a given. Also at 40 it’s possible he’s due for a regression most baseball players see at the end of their career. He’s more risk than reward IMO.
    • Aerodeliria likes this
Him and Cruz can hit the 4pm buffet I guess!

We will be very lucky on multiple fronts if he actually pitches for us in October

What worries me is that the Dodgers have unlimited resources and try to build up as much depth as possible, yet they still did not resign him.

    • D.C Twins and Dome Dogg like this

 

What worries me is that the Dodgers have unlimited resources and try to build up as much depth as possible, yet they still did not resign him.

Yes....because they know a little secret.....that 40 year olds with a history of torn tendons in their throwing elbow who recently had a fairly new surgical procedure....are not so much a risk as an inevitable disaster.

 

Good on him to squeeze an extra 3 mil out of his career though!

I'll be surprised if he pitches 40 innings in 2020.
    • D.C Twins and Aerodeliria like this
He will make 12 starts and pitch 63 innings and go 5-3 with a 4.20 ERA. With 52 Ks and 28 BBs. Control takes a while to come back after surgery and that messes with his success a little.
    • wabene likes this
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ScooterDance
Jan 05 2020 06:45 PM
Running back a 101 win team in a pretty terrible division.

This site leads me to believe we’ve got the same prospects of 2020 postseason as the tigers.

Time for another break methinks.
    • Shaitan, wabene and Jeff_M like this

Amazing to me the club won't sign top tier players to multi-year contracts because they're in their low to mid thirties. Might decline by the last year of the contract, you know. 

 

Meanwhile, we're happy to give multi-million dollar contracts to late thirties and forty year old vets (Cruz, Hill). Neither of whom are top tier talents. 

 

The excuses are just that, excuses. This club is cheap. 

Hill could contribute in a few ways: as a starter, or reliever because we don't have a lot of southpaws in the pen, and as a mentor with postseason experience to the younger guys like Thorpe and Smeltzer.

I'm not as negative on the FO as many are because I believe the deck was stacked against them in free agency. I like what they did re-signing Odorizzi and Pineda and signing Bailey and Hill. There should be good group competing for the back end of the rotation all year with the talent coming up from the farm.
    • DocBauer, wabene and Jeff_M like this

At 40 years old and coming off an injury, I'm thinking "over the Hill."

 

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Major League Ready
Jan 06 2020 06:20 AM

 

Amazing to me the club won't sign top tier players to multi-year contracts because they're in their low to mid thirties. Might decline by the last year of the contract, you know. 

 

Meanwhile, we're happy to give multi-million dollar contracts to late thirties and forty year old vets (Cruz, Hill). Neither of whom are top tier talents. 

 

The excuses are just that, excuses. This club is cheap. 

 

I know … None of these guys drop off-right? If we go back a few years and look at long contracts, I am sure they all did great until their last year. Starting with 2016 their were several guys who got 5,6, even 8 year contracts. Chris Davis, Johnny Cueto, and Jason Heyward. Too bad we missed out on them. Jordan Zimmerman may have only produced 4.4 WAR over his 4 years but you really can’t say he dropped off. Of course

 

2015 was the year of Max Sherzer. He and Greinke are the reason teams have hope in these deals. Of course. 2015 also had Lester and Sandoval. Lester dropped off but he will be a decent 4 over the last half of his contract and Sandoval is still playing somewhere right.

 

2014 Ellsbury and Chin SOO Choo got 7 year deals in 2014. Of course Cano came out of that class too. It looks like he will only be bad for 5 years of his deal. 

 

2013 was the first Greinke deal which he opted out of but he remains the guy who stands out in this crowd. That year also had Josh Hamilton and Melvin Upton getting 5 years each. They darn near produced 5 WAR between the two of them over their contracts and had Hamilton not been cut you could probably have said they did not fall off. Sanchez got a 5 year deal that year too.He was great the first year too but it’s hard to deny he did not suck the last 3 years of his contract.

 

2012 had some big signings we missed out on. Pujlos and Fielder came from that class. Jose Reyes came from that class as well and he was at least serviceable for the last 3 years of his 6 year deal. CJ Wilson rounds out that year but I am afraid there is no way to sugar coat that he was bad the last 3 years of his 5 year deal.

 

Looking back at how all of these huys have only been bad in their final year it’s hard to imagine why the Twins don’t spend whatever it takes.  

    • SwainZag, DocBauer and wabene like this

 

Why are we even talking about this club and October at this point? Shouldn’t we be more focused on the minuscule amount of money, relative to MLB budgets, that we’ve saved in 2023? I’ve been told here that’s the most important thing.

Ah yes. 2023. When Rosario, Buxton, Sano and Berrios won't be here anymore. That's the year to shoot for! Thank God Terry Ryan was at the winter meetings with Falvine to drive this point home to them.

    • Tomj14 likes this

It is more likely that Hill never throws a pitch for the Twins than it is he makes a start in October. 

    • USAFChief likes this
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Homerhankie
Jan 06 2020 03:06 PM
Most of the long term free agent signings stated above were for 5 to 8 year contracts. Not comparing apples to apples there. I agree. Excuses from the FO
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SpicyGarvSauce
Jan 06 2020 03:10 PM

I am sure the Yankees are quivering at the thought of facing Rich Hill in October....if the Twins even get there.

    • Mike Sixel, puckstopper1 and Aerodeliria like this
32 walks in 53 postseason innings tells me that any October success he had was mostly luck, and isn't necessarily likely to repeat itself.

Hill is an extreme example of a lottery ticket signing. There is a small chance he returns to form and wins a playoff game for the Twins, but I'd say the odds are massively higher that he never reaches 25 innings pitched and is off the roster by August.

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TwinsFan268
Jan 06 2020 04:59 PM

Twins fans don't like to talk about October. Especially in January.

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puckstopper1
Jan 06 2020 05:11 PM

There are two probabilities of what Hill provides the Twins in 2020.

 

1) Little

 

or

 

2) Nothing

Hill was not on my list of signings. Period. But I find the negativity of his signing confusing. We have often talked about fliers that should be netted due to potential dividends. This is a $3M flier on a guy who is borderline excellent when he can pitch 14-20 GS and give you a 120 or so IP. He is an "early" mid-season acquisition brought on early. At worst, you tossed away $3M and you move on. End of story. Ready to go, everyone of us would be happy as hell if he'd be good enough to earn some or all of his incentives. He doesn't FIX anything, and I want MORE, but he is a very interesting flier.
    • 70charger, SwainZag, Major League Ready and 2 others like this

 

Amazing to me the club won't sign top tier players to multi-year contracts because they're in their low to mid thirties. Might decline by the last year of the contract, you know. 

 

Meanwhile, we're happy to give multi-million dollar contracts to late thirties and forty year old vets (Cruz, Hill). Neither of whom are top tier talents. 

 

The excuses are just that, excuses. This club is cheap. 

 

You are comparing 4+ year 100M dollar deals to 1 year contracts.Quite the apples and oranges comparison there.  

 

Also, since when is Cruz not a top tier talent?That's news to me...and probably to the Twins too.

    • 70charger, Major League Ready, DocBauer and 1 other like this

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