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.

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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 started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Rich Hill doesn’t just “get outs” though; like Jose Quintana and his ground balls. He strikes batters out.


Let us be realistic. Hill is 43 years old, did not establish himself as a starting pitcher until the age of 30, and has spent 1/2 of his career since being a starter on the IL. This is a hope and prayer that, in the best case, produces 25 decent starts of 5 innings for 1 year when the Pirates will not compete for a playoff position. Which begs the question.. why? This money, along with that paid for a DH (who pays for a DH?) could have been used for a longer term contract for a player who could produce much more than doubts for one year in which the team will not compete. “Veteranosity…” really… you guys still believe this crap (that whatever older player we bring in is good for the youngsters… help with blisters and all that nonsense) after all the “veteranosity” that the Pirates front office has served up over the years. Because the man peed on his hands to try to remove blisters, he will help Contreras? Seriously… think about it… more blowing smoke up the butts of all Pirates fans.

If you are serious about winning and about free agency, you go get a player or players who will help you win in a major way… not tell guys to pee on their hands when they have a blister.

Last edited 1 month ago by Aurorus

It’s not that easy. They have to want to sign and play here. It’s not as easy as sign this player or that player for the same amount of money he signed for elsewhere.

Right now, the Pirates not only appear on every players “no trade clause” list of teams but Pittsburgh is also at the bottom of UFA destinations. See Kyle Gibson.

The most important thing for the Pirates is to draft well, develop and sign homegrown talent long term.

They arn’t gonna be able to compete on the UFA market until they put together atleast one .500 or winning season and have some pieces already in place(like Baltimore last season. Like the Russell Martin signing).

It’s why they need to do everything they can to sign Reynolds long term. Switch-hitting, five tool players are hard enough to find and develop. When you do get one, you have to sign them long term(see Jose Ramirez in Cleveland).

Last edited 1 month ago by pittsburghbob69

If a batter is gearing down for a 70 mph curve, an 88.5 mph fastball up and in must look like a 100 mph Randy Johnson heater.


Happy New Year, everyone. May 2023 bring the Bucs a .500 season! I am also hoping for age reversal to start, too. 😂😂😂

I’m so old that I record the ball dropping and watch it over breakfast!


Happy New Year, Foo. I’m hopeful the Pirates come out of the gate quickly. A winning month of April will cause the dormant Pirates fanbase to come alive and have PNC Park rocking again in the summer.

Let’s Go Bucs!


Happy New Year to yinz! I will be like Lee and missing the ball drop. Have to get up to take my son and his wife to the airport and will have to get up at 3am. Like SK, hoping for a good start to the Bucs season to get the hibernating fan bas awake again 😁


I’m so old, it was called ‘you’nz’ when I lived in Pgh. I still don’t like ‘yinz’.


Lol! I can’t be that much younger than you. I’m in my 60s. To tell you the truth, I never knew how you were supposed to say or spell it. Happy New year!!


We will need plenty of outs, hope Hill works out

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