Pirates Prospects Daily: Rich Hill’s Unorthodox Approach On The Mound

The Pirates may be showing somewhat a preference to pitchers with sinkers. When it comes to their typical rental starter, it’s a soft tossing lefty in each of the past three offseasons now.

In their latest edition, they go for maybe the ultimate case of ‘soft tossing’, as recent signing Rich Hill fell into the second percentile when it came to fastball velocity last year, averaging just 88.5 mph on the pitch.

How Hill uses his fastball is interesting, as you wouldn’t expect someone who throws as soft as he does to focus the pitch up in the strike zone.

That led to some varying results with the pitch, as it was hit harder than any of his other offerings, but it also ranked second behind his slider in strikeout and putaway rates. 

So while it was the pitch that got hit the most (hitters had a .318 average against his fastball), he was also able to put away a good amount of batters with it.

He was willing to take the bad with the good when it comes to the fastball, because it set up the rest of his pitches that he used lower in the zone, including his curveball – which was his most used pitch last season. 

The fastball up high set up three of his other pitches to be fairly effective — the curveball, slider and cutter — with batter’s hitting .240 or worse against each of them.

Learning how to become a complete pitcher is something that takes years for a lot of young players. Having someone to watch who has done this for 18 years and has made 221 starts in his career will help speed that process up for the younger Pirates starters.

Hill may have an unconventional approach on the mound, but he’s found a way to get outs, and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters when pitching.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year! Thanks for making this year a great one on Pirates Prospects! I’ll have a preview of what’s to come in 2023 in First Pitch on Monday.

**The Pirates roster is starting to take shape, and Jeff Reed breaks it down in this week’s Pirates Discussion.

**Sammy Siani hit his fifth home run in the latest Pirates winter league update from John Dreker.

**Missed yesterday? I asked “What is tanking?”

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Jeff Reed looked at how the Pirates roster is taking shape in this week’s Pirates Discussion.

Pirates Discussion: The Roster is Taking Shape

John Dreker will have the latest Pirates Winter Report on Saturday at noon.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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